Do Not Forget the Flood

2 Peter 3:1-7

1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

We are a forgetful people. The old saying reminds us that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Certainly, those who forget history are apt to fall into the same follies as generations before.

How forgetful are we? We forget global catastrophe. In 2 Peter 3, Peter points out that scoffers will arise throughout the period of time known as the last days. Those scoffers will mock the belief that the Lord is bringing this world to any sort of end or that any judgment will fall. And we want to be careful not to go down their path.

Notice, in verse 5, scoffers deliberately—on purpose—forget creation and the flood. They hate the concept that this world is made by God, for God’s glory, under God’s governance. They hate the notion that God would ever judge mankind for our wickedness. And they refuse to acknowledge that, in a single day, destruction quite literally rained down upon the world and wiped out an entire global population except for Noah and his family.

Before we chalk this up to men long ago and their failure, see the call of God for you and me in verse 7. WE too live in a world where men continue to forget the flood. WE too live in a world where men intentionally ignore the evidence for creation. We too live in a world that mocks the Christian hope in the return of Jesus. God says to us, “But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (v. 7). We must not let ourselves forget that, just as Noah experienced the flood, so too our present world is in line for a coming cataclysm from the Lord, this time one of fire and not water.

Our world will not stand as it now stands. We cannot say whether this change will come in a day, a century, or a millennium. But mark this as true: The day will come. God will once again wipe the sinful from the face of the earth. God will preserve his own. And when this second day of judgment comes, all that follows will be right. God will lift the curse and cleanse the world. All will be made new. Sin will be judged and eliminated. The saved will be changed, incapable of future sin, living in joy and true life with the Lord forever.

Why remember? Because many forget. Why remember? Because you forget. You and I often live in this life as if this is the end. It is not. This life is barely the front porch on the house of eternity. Remember that God is the one true God. Remember that Jesus is Lord. Remember that God created this world. Remember that God destroyed it once. Remember that he has promised to do it again, this time with fire that will judge and renew. Remember that the flood was a physical, literal truth. Know that the coming future judgment is a physical and literal truth. Remember so that you are not discouraged by scoffers or mislead by those who do not know or care for our Lord.

I’m Not My Own Judge

1 Corinthians 4:3-4 – 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

When writing to the Corinthian church, a body that had been playing favorites among different teachers, Paul is clear that he does not find their opinion of him to be a big deal. Their judgment is not how he evaluates his spiritual life before the Lord. And then Paul says something very helpful. The Apostle tells us that he also is not the one to truly evaluate his spiritual life. It is the Lord who judges him.

In our world today, we often will talk with people who will be quick to tell us how good they are. There are many who will tell us of the rightness of their choices, even choices that go against the word of God. And they will tell us that what they choose to do is OK because they feel no particular conviction regarding the issue.

Perhaps, however, we should take a lesson from Paul. Perhaps we should not think that we are the ultimate determiners of whether or not our thoughts and actions are righteous. Instead, perhaps we should hold our lives up to an external standard, an unchanging eternal standerd. Perhaps we should weigh our actions, our choices, our hearts against the holy word of Almighty God. The Bible will help us to know if we are doing and thinking things that please the Lord. The Bible is far more stable than our wavering emotions or society’s shifting standards. I am not my own judge. You are not your own judge. The Lord is the only judge.

I do not judge myself. It is the Lord who judges me. And, thanks be to God, he has caused to be perfectly written down for me what his standards of righteousness are . May I love the Lord and live under his word. And, thanks be to God, he has provided Jesus Christ to fulfill on my account the commands of God and cover my guilt for falling short of God’s glory.

Responding to Wrath

Revelation 16:4-7 – 4 The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,
“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,
for you brought these judgments.
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!”
7 And I heard the altar saying,
“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
true and just are your judgments!”

How do you respond to the concept of the judgment of God? What is a godly way to respond to the Lord’s judgments? This is a bit complicated for us, as we are human, guilty of sin, and full of emotion. But we must always begin and end with our understanding that the Lord defines perfection and always does what is right.

In Revelation 16, we see the bowls of the wrath of God rapidly poured out on a rebellious earth. As we watch, we see the third bowl judgment poured out over the waters from which people would drink. This judgment is horrifying. And we see a pair of responses.

In verses 5-6, we see that an angel who is over the waters declares this judgment of God’s to be just. The people of the world have killed God’s saints. They have shed the blood of the innocent. And thus the Lord giving them blood to drink is, in the angelic opinion, right. In verse 7, we hear another voice, that of the altar. Back in chapter 6, we saw that the altar has under it the souls of martyrs. They too declare that God’s judgments are true and just.

At the same time, we know that the Lord does not delight in these just judgments. In Ezekiel 18:23, the Lord declares, “’Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?’” god is not cruel. He does not dance a jig at the destruction of the wicked.

What then do we do with the judgment of God and our emotion? WE see two things. On the one hand, there is sorrow. There is always sorrow when evil men refuse to repent. There is sorrow when men who were created in the image of God fall under the judgment of God.

But, and this is vital for our minds to grasp, the judgment of god is both just and good. The Lord has never once punished anyone wrongly. When the Lord pours out his wrath, his wrath is holy, good, right, pure, and perfect in every way.

OK, actually, let me amend my thoughts here. There is one time. Once in human history, the Lord poured out his wrath on one who did not deserve it. This, of course, is the time the Lord poured out his wrath on Jesus, God the Son, who died to bear away our guilt so that God might welcome the saved into his family.

Christians, weep over and affirm the wrath of God. Weep, because the death of any human being is sad. Affirm, because the wrath of God is always, absolutely always, perfect and right. The wrath of God is never wrong. It is never too far. It is not a thing to be ashamed of. But, as we see in the voice of the angel and the altar, God’s ways are just and right.

Jesus Judges

Revelation 7:15-17 – 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

God is holy. This is true of God the Father and of God the Son. Jesus, if he is not holy, is not God. While the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father, when it comes to the attributes of divine perfection, all that the Father is, the Son is also.

When we think of attributes of divine perfection, we think of things like merciful, gracious, and kind. We think of things like good, faithful, honest, unwavering. And, when we describe God, we understand that the Lord, in his holiness, is both full of love and perfectly just and full of holy wrath against the sin of humanity.

For some, the notion that Jesus would judge with the same wrath as God the Father is tough to understand. Unfortunately, there are those who have painted the Father and the Son as on opposite sides of the love and wrath continuum. This division of the character of the persons of the Godhead distorts our understanding both of the love of the Father and of the wrath of the Son.

How can we know that God the Father is loving? It is from his love that the Father entered into a covenant of redemption with the Son and Spirit to rescue from sin a people. Romans 5:8 tells us that God demonstrates his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God the Father’s love is on display in the death of his only Son for sinners. The Father does not begrudgingly accept us because of the Son’s work. The Father actively sent his Son to rescue us.

Similarly, some fail to see the perfect just wrath of the Son against sin. But we see it quite clearly in Revelation 6. As John, inspired by God, paints a picture of the judgment of God on the rebellious and unrepentant, notice whose wrath is in view. The sinners who fear the judgment they can now not avoid cry out in terror of the wrath of God and of the Lamb. They know that the day of “their” wrath has come.

When God finally judges, Jesus is not an unwilling participant. No, just as the justice of the Father will be fully on display in the final judgment, so too will we see the perfect justice of the Son. Jesus hates sin just as much as God the Father hates sin. Jesus will judge just as perfectly, just as wrathfully, as God the Father.

Why paint this picture? How does it help? It is good not to misunderstand the Father. God is love. It is good not to misunderstand the Son, Jesus is a just judge as well as a gracious Savior. All that God is, Jesus is. All that God is, the Father is. All that God is, the Spirit is. Does God the Father hate and judge sin? So does Jesus. Does Jesus lovingly rescue a people by grace through faith? That is also the heart of God the Father.

It is also helpful for a Christian to see the wrath of the Son when you think of your own salvation. Jesus will judge. Jesus also knew exactly what he was doing when he went to the cross for your sin and mine. Jesus knew that he would bear a perfect, infinite wrath against your sin because that wrath is just as much his wrath as it is the Father’s. Yet Jesus, out of love for you, out of love for the Father, chose to willingly suffer that wrath that you might both be rescued and be a permanent reminder of God’s perfect love and mercy.

Finally, it is good for a non-Christian to see this. Jesus will judge. Do not dare let yourself think, just because Jesus is loving in Scripture, just because Jesus warned us against hypocritical judging, that Jesus will not judge you. Yes, Jesus offers you salvation. You can come to him and be forgiven if you will turn from your sin, bow to his lordship, and entrust your soul to him and his finished work. But, if you refuse this offer of mercy, you will suffer his wrath on the day of judgment, and that will be a wrath you cannot survive.

The Goodness of Judgment

As Paul opens his second letter to the church in Thessalonica, he points to the faithfulness of the believers as well as the promise of the judgment of God on the lost. I have some thoughts here, but I want to include the section for you to read with its context.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 – 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

My thoughts here are about the judgment of God. Particularly, I am thinking about God’s judgment in contrast with the way that many followers of God speak of his wrath. I believe, as I read this passage, that many of us, if we are not careful, are in danger of speaking of the wrath of the Almighty in a way that is inconsistent with biblical language and biblical emotion.

In verse 5, note that Paul speaks of “the righteous judgment of God.” In verse 6, Paul says, “God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you.” Then, after a discussion of the judgment of God in verses 8-9, Paul speaks of how this all should motivate us to obedience. But the motivation is not because we fear being judged in a similar way. Never biblically is the Christian called to fear the fiery judgment of Christ on the lost. No, we are called to obey because we see that God’s justice will be done and our afflictions will be repaid.

Go back to verses 8-9. There we see the fiery judgment of God that will accompany the return of the Lord Jesus. There is nothing in these words of Scripture to soften the picture of God’s wrath. We see a reference to flaming fire (v. 8), to the Lord Jesus inflicting vengeance (v. 8), and the punishment of eternal destruction (v. 9). In all this, we see that it points to the glory of Christ (v. 10) and he pours out the judgment of God on those who are guilty of not knowing God or obeying the gospel (v. 8).

Also, as we read this section, we should see that the Lord gave these words to a persecuted church for their comfort. God wanted the church to understand that his reward for their faith and faithfulness is real. God also wanted them to see that his proper justice for the evils of the world around them is equally real and equally good.

Now, here is the challenge for us all. How are we to feel about these words? Do you regret them? Do they embarrass you as a believer? Do you wish they were not there? Do you tolerate them like you have to tolerate having dental work done? Do you welcome them into the house the way you welcome in that one relative that you would always prefer not to see but whom you have to invite over for a cookout from time to time?

Here is where I think we need biblical help. Our emotions need to mirror the feel of the Scripture. And while we know that the Lord himself tells us he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), the Lord also makes it clear to us that his justice, even is wrath for those who refuse his gospel, is good; it is to his glory.

Christian, I would never call you to celebrate and laugh over another’s destruction. But, Christian, do not be ashamed of the judgment of God. Do not act as though god is a little lesser in your eyes for the existence of hell. Do not pretend that god is good in general, but if he really did things right, he would not judge.

Our god is holy. Our God sees evil with a clarity that you and I can never grasp before our ultimate and final sanctification leading to glorification. Until the Lord removes all your sin from you, you will never see just how ugly sin is nor how righteous and perfect is the Lord’s wrath.

But, even now, even before you can see with clarity the goodness of the Lord’s judgment, strive to embrace all that the Lord does as good, genuinely, beautifully, perfectly good. As heaven is good, so too is hell. Were this not so, God would not have made either. The Lord, his ways are perfect. Always, always remember this. And when you read of his love and mercy, rejoice. And when you read of his right wrath, ask the Lord to help you see this as his goodness too.

God’s Love and Hate

When we think about the things of the Lord, we can often misshape our picture of God into something of man’s own contrivance. We take a little Bible, a little Disney, a little culture, roll them up, and we come up with a depiction of God that is not that of the word.

Consider the idea of God’s love and God’s hate. Whom does God love? Everybody? Just some folks? Everybody but Hitler? Be careful before you answer.

The word of God speaks of God as loving the world. At the same time, the Bible speaks of God as hating the wicked.

Psalm 11:5
The Lord tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

Does God Love the world? Has he proved his love for the world? Yes, we see that in John 3:16. God sent Jesus Christ to save for God a people from every nation.

Does God hate the wicked? The answer here must also be yes. WE see it with absolute clarity. When the psalmist was writing about those who would do murder to the righteous, those who love violence, his language is uncompromising. God hates the wicked.

What do we do with this? We let the word speak and define God for us. God is gloriously loving. God has made it abundantly clear that any person who turns from sin and trusts in Jesus will be saved. That is true for the world, all people all over the entire globe. It is also true that those who do not have Jesus, who hate God and his ways, are under the wrath of the Almighty. They will face his judgment in fury and fire.

What do we do as Christians? We show the love of God in honestly proclaiming the gospel. We promote justice and mercy, holiness and righteousness, and all sorts of attributes of God that stand out in a fallen world. We share the genuine gospel with all we can so as to call people to faith, repentance, and salvation. But we do not soften the person of God by pretending that God does not hate the wicked. God says so. WE do not pretend that God is really sorry about hell, but his hands are tied. WE embrace the Bible’s picture of a loving God who welcomes all who come to him and who judges all who oppose him.

A Crime Against the Lord

Do you think that, were you to die and stand before God right now, he would welcome you to heaven or send you to hell? When that question is asked, most people who acknowledge the truth of God’s existence say that they hope for heaven. But if you ask them by what standard they expect heaven, they have no biblical answer. In most cases, they look to whether or not they believe themselves guilty of a damnable offense.

One of our greatest problems in relating to God is our inability to really understand what is offensive to the Lord. Yes, the Lord has shown us this in his word, but we are so very dull. Obviously we grasp that some things are wrong. There are things that nearly any human being would agree are evil. WE do not like to see other people hurt. We agree that things like theft and assault are wrong. We agree that murder is wrong.

The thing that is very difficult for the people of our world to imagine is that God would judge a person, eternally judge a person, based on issues of faith. It is an unwelcome idea in the world to suggest a person would be lost based on a refusal to believe in Jesus. Such a doctrine is seen as bigoted, closed-minded, and unsophisticated. A person will ask, “Are you telling me that I’m going to hell if I do not believe what you believe?”

When we are faced with the world’s scorn for suggesting that faith or lack thereof is the measure of salvation, we have one of two choices. WE can either compromise by ignoring the word of God, or we can allow the word of God to show us the truth. God has always judged men and women based on more than their participation in what we consider to be major evils. God also judges based on our hearts. And God sees a lack of faith in him as a damnable offense.

Zephaniah 1:12

At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
and I will punish the men
who are complacent,
those who say in their hearts,
‘The Lord will not do good,
nor will he do ill.’

Notice whom God will judge in this passage. It is not that God says he will search Jerusalem for the vilest offenders only. HE is not simply after the murderers, rapists, and the like. For sure, those will face God’s judgment. But God is here telling his people that he will judge the men who are simply complacent about him. God’s judgment will fall on those who simply assume that God is a non-factor.

While I have no reason to try to justify the judgments of the Lord—he is absolutely perfect, after all—I will make a simple point here. God is the Creator. God is the Lord over the universe and beyond. God fashioned this universe for his glory. God created people in his image to acknowledge his lordship. It is an evil thing for a person, who has the responsibility to worship the Lord, to instead refuse to acknowledge him. God is not petty. God’s purposes are perfect. And to refuse him that for which you were created is to rebel against him deeply.

So, will a person be judged by God for something as seemingly trivial as not believing? Absolutely they will. This is because what seems trivial to fallen man is not at all trivial. God is our Creator. He created all things for his glory. He has every right to demand our allegiance. If we refuse him that allegiance, he has every right to judge us for that offense.

And before being offended about this concept, remember that the Lord has also given a global command. All people everywhere are commanded by God to turn from sin and trust in Jesus Christ to be saved. Will you obey God’s call? Will you yield to the Lord who made you? If so, praise God, you will be saved. If not, do not be surprised that you will face the judgment of the God you refuse.

Let’s Talk Judgment

One of the worst human follies is to allow yourself to believe that present actions have no future or eternal ramifications. To live so much in the here and now as to pretend that there is no future, no tomorrow, no forever is a deadly thing. And this is an error that has gripped people through the generations.

In Isaiah’s day, he promised the judgment of God on a rebellious people.

Isaiah 26:20—21 – 20 Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. 21 For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.

In these verses, God calls on his people to hide while his judgment falls on the land around them. It is a simple picture of God protecting and preserving his own while he allows his justice to rain down on those around them. This happened in Egypt, when God preserved the Hebrews in Goshen but let judgment fall on the Egyptians.

What got my attention when I read this was the wording of the end of verse 21, “and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.” Part of the judgment of God on the people of the land is that he will not allow the earth to hide the sin of the people. The earth itself will disclose the blood shed on it.

Friends, we are total fools if we assume that we can sin in secret and not have the Lord know. We are fools if we believe that the Lord will allow any sin to go unpunished. And we are fools if we believe that a nation will stand under the favor of God when it is full of innocent blood shed by evil men.

Just imagine if, in our own nation, the land was to reveal all the innocent blood shed by people who assumed they were getting away with something. The blood of all the brutalized slaves would be seen. All the blood of innocent babies slain in the womb would cry out against us. The blood of the lives of those who have been consumed by our entertainment industries would stand out against us. The blood of trafficked women and children would serve as testimony against us.

Our nation has a history of many great things, but we would be fools to pretend that our nation does not also have a great deal for which to answer to the Lord. And we are fools if we believe that the Lord will not call the nation to account. The land will show what we have been. The Lord is just and must rightly punish sin, all sin, every sin.

Christians, take note. Our only way of escaping the judgment of God is found in faith in Christ and repentance from sin. All who are in Christ have our sin punished, not in ourselves, but in the Savior who died as a sacrificial substitute. Jesus, while hanging on the cross, took the wrath of God upon himself for every sin the forgiven ever commit. Our hope has never been in the idea that God will allow sin to go unchecked. Our hope is in the fact that the justice of God for our sin has already been done.

But for all not in Christ, the judgment of God is quite real and quite personal. You see, for all who refuse God’s grace in Jesus, there is only one alternative. All who refuse the grace of God and the Lordship of Christ will stand before the bar of God’s justice and receive for themselves the due penalty for sinning against the Holy God who made us. That judgment is infinite in scope, as to sin against the infinitely holy God is an infinite crime. And this is not limited only to individuals. Every nation that opposes the Lord and his ways will face the right judgment of the Almighty.

Our only hope as a nation is to receive the grace of God. As individuals, we are guilty. As a nation, we are guilty. The solution to our problem begins with the spread of the gospel. As individual after individual begins to receive the grace of God in Christ, as family after family comes under the influence of Scripture, then and only then might our nation turn from its rebellion against the Lord before it is too late.

Friends, may we as individuals and we as a nation turn to the Lord to seek his mercy. God is just. Jesus is our only hope. To ignore the coming justice of God is folly.

Hope or Vanity

Is it worth it to follow God? That was the question that I asked in a message on Malachi 3:13-4:3. You see, at the end of Malachi 3, we saw that there were some people who were claiming that following God was vain, useless, worthless. Why? They were upset that it looked like good people were not being rewarded by God and bad people were not being judged by God. And these folks believed that, if God was not making their lives better, God was not worth following.

The answer in Malachi from God was one of eternal perspective. God said that a day was to come when he would make it clear who had been his follower and who had not. In 4:1-3, God talked about the day of the Lord, a day of coming judgment and reward. God promised he will do justice. God promised he will reward those who have honored and feared him.

But what about the New Testament? Are we to think like Malachi? Or are we who are in the New Covenant to expect that things are different today? Should we assume that, regardless of what happens after we die, we get our best lives now?

In my reading through 1 Corinthians, I was reminded that Paul preached a nearly identical message to Malachi. Take a look.

1 Corinthians 15:19 – If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

When Paul faced those who were denying the concept of the resurrection, both that of Jesus and the future resurrection of all believers, he said this is a big deal. In fact, Paul points out that hope in this life alone would be vanity for the Christian. It is meaningless to live for this life and not for the one to come. No matter how good we may or may not get things now, hope in this life alone would make us of all people most to be pitied.

Malachi acknowledged that life is hard in the here and now. But he said that following God was worth it for the hope of eternity. Is that Paul’s message too?

1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Paul says that we can know that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. How? If you look back over the chapter, you will see that Paul pointed to the day of Christ’s return. Paul pointed to Jesus raising the dead, giving all believers new, eternal, resurrection bodies, and completing the arrival of his kingdom. Paul pointed to what will come in eternity future, and he said that it is because of that hope that we can know, in a hard here and now, that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Following God is worth it. Sometimes it is a real joy in the here and now. Sometimes it is really hard with joy deep down holding us together. But in the light of eternity, in the light of the judgment, in the light of Christ’s return, we can know that it is truly worth it to follow and obey Jesus, to honor and fear the Lord. That message did not change from Old Testament to New. So, let us set our minds and hearts on the eternity to come which proves to us that laboring in the Lord today is worth it.

Remember the Lord Early in Life

One mistake that people sometimes make is to assume that we have a good deal of time before we need to consider the things of God. After all, when we are young, are we not supposed to be thinking about other things? People assume that, once they are old and gray, they will be able to do the religious thing.

But the wisest man of the Old Testament gives us a significant warning not to wait. Solomon tells us to remember the Lord long before we expect our lives to take a turn toward the cemetery.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 – Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;

For the first eleven chapters of Ecclesiastes, Solomon has shown us just how messed up life can be. Nasty people get rich and have all they want. Kind people suffer. Whether a person is good or bad, the grave awaits them both. And thus, if one estimates the value of morality from a naturalistic bent, all is vanity.

But here, Solomon is drawing to a conclusion. And one of his final pieces of counsel is that we should remember the Lord when we are young. Then, from verses 2-9, Solomon describes the hardships people face in aging. He suggests you be right with God before your vision and hearing go, before your legs get trembly, your teeth get weak, and your sexual desire wanes. Solomon is telling us to be right with our Creator before we die, and since we do not know when that will be, we should start young.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 – 13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

While we might think that life seems meaningless and unfair, God has assured us of this: he will bring all into judgment. There is no sin that will ever go unpunished. There is no wrong that will not be righted, no justice that will go unsettled.

How? God is just and holy. Jesus died as a substitute to suffer God’s wrath for all he will forgive and to transfer to the forgiven God’s righteousness. Thus, your sin will be punished. Either God will punish you for your sin, or he has punished Jesus for your sin. If he punishes you for your sin, his infinite wrath will be poured out on you. You cannot survive that. But Jesus, God in the flesh, could take our punishment, satisfy God’s justice, and rise from the grave.

Solomon tells us to get right with our Creator while we are young. Before you get old, before you lose pleasure in life, before your mind is cluttered, remember your God. He is a righteous judge who has offered you grace in Jesus. Rejoice in that gracious justice and surrender to Jesus before it is too late.