Real Judgment, Real Warning

“Behold, the Lord will empty the earth and make it desolate,
    and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.
And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest;
    as with the slave, so with his master;
    as with the maid, so with her mistress;
as with the buyer, so with the seller;
    as with the lender, so with the borrower;
    as with the creditor, so with the debtor.
The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered;
    for the Lord has spoken this word.

The earth mourns and withers;
    the world languishes and withers;
    the highest people of the earth languish.
The earth lies defiled
    under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed the laws,
    violated the statutes,
    broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore a curse devours the earth,
    and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,
    and few men are left.
The wine mourns,
    the vine languishes,
    all the merry-hearted sigh.
The mirth of the tambourines is stilled,
    the noise of the jubilant has ceased…
No more do they drink wine with singing;
    strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.
The wasted city is broken down;
    every house is shut up so that none can enter.
There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine;
    all joy has grown dark;
    the gladness of the earth is banished.
Desolation is left in the city;
    the gates are battered into ruins.
For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth
    among the nations,
as when an olive tree is beaten,
    as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done…

“Terror and the pit and the snare
    are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth!..
For the windows of heaven are opened,
    and the foundations of the earth tremble.
The earth is utterly broken,
    the earth is split apart,
    the earth is violently shaken.
 The earth staggers like a drunken man;
    it sways like a hut;
its transgression lies heavy upon it,
    and it falls, and will not rise again.” Isaiah 24:1-13,17-20

It is human nature to be put off by horrors and pain. No one would choose the ravages of desolation, or pain of punishment, yet again and again we choose our own way that leads us from God. To understand the grave reality of judgment is to be persuaded to avoid it, and our gracious Lord, in love, offers clear warnings for us.

Still, we resist warnings. We don’t want to change our behavior, or consider God’s wrath, though His holiness requires it. He does not share His glory, shows no favoritism- only righteousness- when He judges, and is no respecter of persons. His word and its upright execution are sure and trustworthy. (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11; Acts 10:34; Hebrews 10:30-31)

How often, and in what situations, do we choose to ignore God’s warnings, instead preferring the temporary pleasures of sin? Where do we feign ignorance and allow ‘a loving God would never do that’ to creep into our decision-making? In what instances do we procrastinate doing the right thing because the wrong thing is easier, for now? No matter our motives or reasons, neglect of God’s warnings will be uncovered and called to account. Take heed! (Mark 14:38; Romans 14:12; Hebrews 11:24-25)

Father, thank You for upholding Your holiness and Your word. Keep me attentive to Your warnings and vigilant to depend on You.

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