God's truth for today's world

Ferguson and God’s Judgment Message Introduction

We’re in a message series called “Understanding the End Times.” As we go through this series, I trust you’re beginning to understand that as we study the end times, we are learning how to live here and now. Understanding the last days in which we live is essential to following Jesus today. Knowing what is going to happen at the end of this age encourages and guides us as we prioritize our lives for tomorrow.

God’s Word teaches us that those who are wise, live with eternity in mind. Those who are foolish live simply for the present. The times in which we live are unprecedented in the history of the human race.

Daniel 12:4 (NIV)  But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”

A recent global survey indicated that 82% of people felt the world was changing too fast. Knowledge is increasing at an exponential rate. It has been estimated that from the time of Christ, it took 1500 years for global knowledge to double. In the next 250 years, knowledge doubled again. By 1900, knowledge was doubling every 100 years. By the end of WWII, knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Currently, it is estimated that global knowledge is doubling every year. In the next 5 years, knowledge will increase at least 50 times.

Daniel prophesied that there would be a knowledge explosion at the time of the end. Has our increase in knowledge made our world a safer place? Has our increase in knowledge led to more righteous living? Knowledge cannot save people from their sins. Only Jesus can save us. How should we live in such unprecedented times?

Today, our message is entitled “The Awesome Judgment of God.” Last Sunday, we talked about the days of the Lord, times of judgment on nations throughout history leading up to a final day of the Lord. The judgment of God is a major topic in the Bible. Yet many people are afraid to speak of it. Understanding God’s judgment is critical to living for Him in the end times.

Daniel 12:9-10 (NIV)  He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end.  Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

The book of Daniel speaks of God’s judgments. Here we see two results. The righteous respond to God’s judgments by repenting and being purified or refined. The righteous are wise and understand what God is saying and doing. On the other hand, the wicked are punished by God’s judgments, but they don’t understand what is going on. The wicked continue to be wicked and grow even more wicked. Today, we want to look at what the prophet Malachi in the last book of the OT has to say about God’s judgment and how we should respond.

Don’t blame God

Malachi 2:17 (NIV)  You have wearied the LORD with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?”

In other words, the Israelites were blaming God for not punishing evil doers. They were blaming God for not bringing justice to the wrongs in their society. The prophet Malachi says that the people were wearying the Lord. The Lord was tired of their grumbling and complaining. He was not pleased with their blaming of Him. As we’ll see, the problems in society, no matter how problematic or even evil, are not God’s fault. We also mustn’t …

Don’t speak arrogantly to God

Malachi 3:13-14 (NIV)  “You have said harsh things against me,” says the LORD. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’  “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty?

Not only had the Israelites blamed God for not judging the wicked, now they were saying it was of no use to serve God. Apparently they thought that those who were evil were being blessed and they, who were trying to serve God, were not blessed. The Lord considered such speaking against Himself harsh and arrogant. The people were contradicting God’s Word and basically calling Him a liar, for not keeping His Word. They also were …

Don’t accuse others

Malachi 3:15 (NIV)  But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'”

When the Israelites that Malachi was addressing, looked around, they saw others as arrogant, as evildoers and as those who challenged God. They accused others of wrongdoing and blamed God Himself for not punishing them.

To summarize, in the nation of Israel, there were those who blamed God and accused others for the evil that was going on in their nation. As we’ll see, that is not the way that God desires for us to respond to evil, violence or His judgment. We also have the tendency to blame God or others for the issues in our society. It seems as though the issues of Ferguson have split the city of St Louis, indeed the nation into two camps. Each blaming and accusing the other of wrong doing.

Some of us live in Ferguson, many do not. However, this is not just a Ferguson issue, it is a St Louis issue. Rather than blaming or pointing the finger, God wants us to seek Him and see how we can be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Ultimately, the issues raised in Ferguson are not issues of skin color, but of sin. We need God’s forgiveness and people across this area need to find Jesus as the prince of peace. The people of Malachi’s day clamored for justice and the prophet told them that …

God’s judgment is coming

Malachi 3:1 (NIV)  “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.

The judgment of the Lord comes suddenly, it comes unexpectedly, and it comes certainly. You might ask, why doesn’t God’s judgment come immediately on sin and evil? Well, the answer is obvious. If God’s judgment came instantly, none of us would be here today, we’d all have been wiped out. Why? Because we’ve all sinned, we’re all sinners. So, the reason that God withholds His judgment is to give sinners time to repent and turn to Him. God withholds His judgment because of His mercy and grace. Yet, His judgment comes in history and it will come ultimately when Jesus returns.

God’s judgment will purify the righteous

Malachi 3:2-3 (NIV)  But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.  He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness,

When the judge comes, he will be like a refiner’s fire or launderer’s soap. What does a refiner’s fire do? A refiner’s fire heats up silver ore until the metal melts and the dross rises to the surface. The refiner knows all the dross has been removed and the silver is pure when he sees his face reflected in the precious metal. The fire of judgment removes the sin or dross from the righteous ones lives as they repent and turn to God.

In the same way, the launder’s soap removes the dirt and produces a pure white garment. God’s judgment purifies the righteous, so that they reflect His image to others. On the other hand ….

God’s judgment will punish the wicked

Malachi 3:5 (NIV)  “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.

The Lord lists all types of wicked people that He is coming in judgment to. Notice that both obvious sins, such as sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers are mentioned, along with less obvious sins such as fraud, oppression and injustice. What is the common characteristic of all the wicked so named? They do not fear the Lord. They do not respond to His judgment with repentance and so are ultimately doomed.

Oftentimes we get all hung up with the question of whether some negative event or circumstance was God’s judgment or not. Some people asked Jesus once whether a tower collapsing and killing 18 people was God’s judgment on them. Jesus said, no, those people weren’t any worse sinners than anyone else. But unless you repent, you will likewise perish.

When something bad happens, don’t blame God, don’t point the finger at someone else, make sure that you are right with the Lord. Repent of any sin in your own life, any attitudes that a situation brings to light. When you read the various accounts of what happened in Ferguson, have any attitudes surfaced in your own thoughts and feelings that you need to repent of. Rather than pointing the finger and trying to be the judge that sorts out who is right and who is wrong, we should be praying for and having compassion on all those who have been affected by the recent crisis. As believers, we are called to be peacemakers and those who bring unity. We must be those who …

Fear the Lord

Malachi 3:16 (NIV)  Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

Those who feared God did not blame God or accuse others. They feared God, the judge of the whole earth and made sure that they had repented of their own sin. The talked and communicated with others who feared the Lord. Those who feared God were in unity of others who likewise feared God. And God was pleased. He heard their godly words and wrote down what was spoken, which honored His name. God hears everything we say. Are the words you say, words that God will record in His scroll of remembrance?

God will distinguish between the righteous and the wicked

Malachi 3:18 (NIV)  And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

God’s judgment brings distinction between the righteous and the wicked. We see it in partial measure in this life and will see it completely at the final judgment. At that time …

The wicked will be punished

Malachi 4:1 (NIV)  “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,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.

The final punishment of God of the wicked characterized as a burning furnace. The wicked are as stubble, that is easily consumed in fire. On the other hand …

The righteous will be blessed

Malachi 4:2-3 (NIV)  But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.  Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the LORD Almighty.

The ultimate day of judgment will be a day of salvation for the righteous. For those who fear the Lord and honor His name. While we seek for justice in this life, complete justice will only come with God’s final judgment. So, we leave judgment to God, as we extend His grace and mercy to everyone. Finally, we must remember to …

Protect your family

Malachi 4:5b-6 (NIV)  “… before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.  He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Those are the last verses in Malachi, the last verses in the Old Testament. God’s purpose for the righteous is that there will be unity and love between fathers and their children. Modern-day studies have shown that children will follow the spiritual leadership of their fathers, whether for good or bad. The passage ends with the warning that if the family is not protected, the nation would be cursed in judgment.

How should we respond to demonstrations and protests? First of all, we walk in the fear of the Lord. As we fear Him, we need not fear man, nor be angry with others. Ultimately, God, the only impartial judge, will punish the wicked and bless the righteous.

Our mission in life is not to judge, but to let our lights shine in the darkness. We let our lights shine through prayer, through actions of compassion and words of truth spoken in love. Our goal is to lead the wicked to Jesus, so that through faith, they might become righteous.

Broken families in our city where the hearts of children have been alienated from their fathers lead to God’s judgment and curse falling upon them. What is the answer to broken families? Jesus is the only answer, He can bring families back together, the Lord can be a father to the fatherless and the church can be a family to those with no families. God desires Life Church to be a loving family for those whose families are broken. God desires Life Church to be a family of God that demonstrates unity, harmony and love between all races, nationalities and ages. He wants us to be His city on a hill, a city that shines His light into the St Louis area as we walk in the fear of the Lord.

Let’s use the situation in Ferguson as an opportunity to point people to Jesus and not be those who contribute to division and strife. We mustn’t blame God or blame others. Rather we must realize that God’s judgment in our city is an opportunity to examine our own hearts. Allow God to purify your heart and attitudes, so that we can be peacemakers. May our church family be an example of unity between all races, nationalities and ages, so that God may be glorified.

 Message Audio, Outline & Study Guide

Understanding the End Times Message Series

The Day of the Lord in God's Timing (Joel 2)
The Future of the Believer (1 Corinthians 15)
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