The Day of Judgment!
James Smith, 1860
"The Lord Almighty says: Behold! The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace! On that day the proud and the wicked will be burned up like stubble. They will be consumed — roots, branches, and all!" Malachi 4:1
Every wise man will occasionally look forward, and endeavor to ascertain what is before him, that if good, he may secure it; or if evil, escape it. If we are wise, we shall look into the future, at least occasionally, and if we do so, we shall see that there are solemn scenes, and trying times before us. Man has his day now — but the day of the Lord is coming, and I want to fix the eye of my mind on one passage that represents it. It is a solemn and impressive portion of God's holy word. "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire. Not a root or a branch will be left to them!"
THE PERIOD. "The day of judgment is coming!" It is called . . .
the day of the Lord,
the day of vengeance,
the great day of his wrath.
It is the day when Jesus comes — comes . . .
not as the man of sorrows — but as the Judge of all;
not as the Lamb of God — but as the Lion of the tribe of Judah;
not as the Friend of sinners — but as the King of kings, and the Lord of lords.
Jesus is coming. He is coming in his glory — in his Father's glory — and all the holy angels with him. Then God will be revealed, not as in the word of his grace — but . . .
in solemn majesty,
in inconceivable splendor,
in dazzling glory.
Then justice will be dispensed, for he will judge the world in righteousness, and render justice to the people in uprightness, by Jesus his beloved Son. Then all the solemn threatenings of his word will be fulfilled — and the wicked will be turned into Hell. The man who knew the Lord's will and did it not, will be beaten with many stripes. Sinners will receive their wages, and the wages of sin is death. The desert of every man's sin will be rendered unto him. The saints will be elevated and rewarded. They will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
It will be a glorious day to Jesus, a happy day to his saints — but it will be a terrible day to sinners. "The day is coming," it is traveling towards us, it will soon be here, it was never so near as now. "Behold, it is coming!" Behold, for it demands attention! Behold, for it deserves consideration!
THE TERRIBLE FACT. "Behold! The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace!"
The element of punishment is fire — the fiercest, most powerful, most penetrating, and most destructive of the elements!
Fire, and plenty of it, for it is a lake of fire!
Fire glowing with fierceness, fire strengthened, contracted, and fed, for it shall burn as a furnace!
This will be more dreadful than Nebuchadnezzar's burning fiery furnace — more than the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It will be so terrible that . . .
no words can set it forth,
no imagery can represent it,
no mind can conceive it!
The punishment will be irresistible. It is devouring fire. There will be no standing against it. As when the prairie is on fire, and floods of flame come sweeping along — there is no resisting, no escaping it. In the same way, none can resist, or escape from the devouring fire with which the day of judgment shall be ushered in.
The punishment will be eternal.
It is everlasting burnings.
It is unquenchable fire.
It will feed on sinners — but never consume them.
It will punish — but never annihilate them.
It will begin — but never end.
It is forever!
Yet the punishment is just. No one will suffer more than he deserves. Every sufferer's conscience will be satisfied that his punishment is his just due. No one will be able to charge God with cruelty or injustice; for God will have a witness in every man's bosom, that He is doing right. Every sufferer will be silenced with the conviction that he is only receiving the just reward of his deeds.
THE CHARACTERS DOOMED. "On that day the proud and the wicked will be burned up like stubble!"
"The proud." Proud professors — and proud worldlings. All who unduly value themselves, and despise others. All, who are too proud to submit to the righteousness of God, or to bow to be saved in the same way, by the same grace, as the thief on the cross, or the immoral woman. All who in the pride of their hearts reject the gospel, put away the invitations of the Savior, and refuse to be reconciled to God. All who despise the poor saints, on account of their poverty; or any of the Lord's little ones, on account of their infirmities. The proud always . . .
yield to Satan, and
grieve the Holy Spirit.
God resists the proud — but gives grace to the humble.
A proud sinner cannot be saved. Pride is the root — and wickedness is the fruit. The proud are always wicked, and therefore the proud, even all who do wickedness, are doomed to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire!
"The wicked." That is,
all who will not observe God's law, to walk by it,
all who will not embrace Christ's gospel, to be saved by it,
all who will not fly to the refuge, provided for the guilty.
THE DOOM. "They will be burned up like stubble!" They shall be as stubble dried by the eastern sun, on which the flame seizes, feeds, and strengthens.
They shall be fuel for everlasting burnings!
They shall be utterly consumed with terrors!
Their destruction shall be complete. "They will be consumed — roots, branches, and all!" It shall leave them no ROOT — no hope remaining. While there is a root, there is hope — but when the root is gone, there is no hope.
It shall leave them no BRANCH — there shall be no beauty left. All will be gloom, misery, and woe!
This is certain, for God Himself speaks. He speaks as the God of war, "Behold! The Lord Almighty says!" Here is . . .
majesty — but not mercy;
power — but not pity;
judgment — but not compassion!
How fearsome is divine majesty, stripped of mercy!
How dreadful is omnipotence, when there is no pity!
How direful is judgment, when there is no compassion!
Lost sinner, take warning! The day is coming that shall burn like a furnace! It is coming! It is coming! It will be here soon! It may overtake you unawares.
What will you do in this day of the Lord's coming?
To whom will you flee for help?
There will be no Savior then.
There will be no refuge for the guilty then.
There will be no hiding-place for the sinner then.
Take warning, O take warning! Take warning in time, that you may be saved in the day of the Lord's fierce anger.
That dreadful day, may be to you a blessed day to you.
That terrible day, may be the most glorious day to you.
It will, if you flee to Jesus, if you are sheltered in Jesus, and are brought into saving union with him.
Waverer, decide. Decide at once!
You have been halting long enough.
You cannot serve God and Mammon!
You cannot be for the world, and Christ.
You must choose your side.
You must be for Christ — or against him.
There will be no waverers when that day comes that shall burn as oven — but it will be too late to decide for Christ then.
Loiterer, flee to the refuge. You are like Lot on the plains of Sodom. You need someone to hasten you. Let me therefore urge you to flee for your life, look not behind you, tarry not in all the plain!
Hasten, sinner, hasten!
Flee, O flee to Jesus!
His arms are open to embrace you.
His heart is full of pity and love.
His blood will cleanse you from all sin.
His grace will save you from the day that burns as a furnace!
Flee then, flee to Jesus, and be safe forever!
Believer, rejoice in your safety.
You are in Christ.
Your sins are pardoned.
You are justified.
To you there is no condemnation.
For you there is no place of punishment.
Let that day come whenever it may — you are safe.
You shall be caught up into the cloud of safety, while the fiery deluge sweeps over the world — and so shall you be ever with the Lord.
Being safe yourself, try to rescue others. Think of Jude's words, "Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire!" Try, O try, to pull sinners back, as they rush forward unprepared to meet that fiery day!
By tender warnings,
by earnest entreaties,
by loving invitations,
by any means, and
by every means —
try and save them!
Think, O think of the words, "Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins!" O for grace, for courage, for wisdom — to save souls from death!
O Judge of quick and dead,
Before whose bar severe,
With holy joy — or guilty dread,
We all shall soon appear!