2.10 The Judgment Seat: Motivation to Preach

2.10 The judgment seat will come. All the responsible will come before it. The rejected will gnash their teeth in anger against themselves.

Motivation To Preach

The prophets pronounced judgment to come on behalf of Yahweh, but then their prophecies often change pronouns for a few verses as they plead with Israel, and even Gentile nations (in the case of Isaiah and Jeremiah) to repent, so that these judgments will be averted. Their knowledge of judgment to come, their belief that the word they knew and preached would really be fulfilled, led them to a true sense of concern for those who would suffer from it, and they begged them to therefore repent. It gave them motivation to preach. Zephaniah pronounced judgment, and then diverted to personally appeal to his people (Zeph. 2:1-3). Or take Micah. Chapter 2 is full of a message of judgment against Israel. And then Micah pleads: " And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob…is it not for you to know [the coming of] judgment?" (3:1). Likewise: " For this will I wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like jackals…at Beth-le-Aphrah have I rolled myself in the dust" (Mic. 1:8,10 RV). Rolling naked in the dust…this was the extent of Micah's passion for the repentance of his audience. He comes to the point where he would fain make sacrifice for Israel, even to the point of offering his firstborn son, so strongly did he take upon himself the sins of his people. But he tells Israel that even this will be no good; they must repent themselves: " Wherewith shall I come before the Lord...shall I come before him with burnt offerings....shall I give my firstborn for my transgression?...what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly...and to humble thyself [in repentance]" (6:6-8). In all this, Micah came close to the spirit of the Father and Son. For the Father would give His firstborn for their sin. Like the Father and Son, he came looking for fruit on the vine of Israel: " my soul desired the firstripe fruit" (Mic. 7:1). This chapter goes on to describe God warning Micah of how Israel would betray him and seek to kill him, despite his love for them, in language evidently prophetic of the Lord's sacrifice (1). Thus in Micah's love for Israel, in the depth of his appreciation of the reality of judgment to come which gave him such motivation to preach, he came to know the spirit of Christ crucified in the depth of his zeal to appeal to them. And we too know with quite some accuracy the judgment to come upon Israel and our fellow man. We cannot know this and knowingly tut tut to each other about it, and do sweet nothing about it.

If we know it, we will appeal to men with conviction, receiving similar motivation to preach, as Isaiah's heart cried out for Moab like a young heifer about to be slaughtered, feeling for them in what would come upon them, and desperately appealing for their repentance. Because the Moabites would cry out and their voice would be heard, " my heart shall cry out for Moab" (Is. 15:4,5,8). As the Lord Jesus is a representative Saviour, we too must feel the judgment that is to come upon others, and in that sense cry out for them as they will cry out. " Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab" (Is. 16:7)- but Isaiah, feeling for them so strongly, also howled for them; " my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab" (16:11). This level of love inspired Jeremiah to adopt the same attitude (Jer. 48:20,31-34); he too howled for those whose howling in condemnation he prophesied (Jer. 48:31 s.w.). As Moab cried out like a three year old heifer (Jer. 48:34), so did Isaiah for them (Is. 15:5). All this was done by Isaiah and Jeremiah, knowing that Moab hated Israel (Is. 25:10) and were evidently worthy of God's condemnation. But all the same they loved them, in the spirit of Noah witnessing to the mocking world around him. Our knowledge of this world's future means that as we walk the streets and mix with men and women, our heart should cry out for them, no matter how they behave towards us, and there should be a deep seated desire for at least some of them to come to repentance and thereby avoid the judgments to come. Particularly is this true, surely, of the people and land of Israel. It ought to be impossible for us to walk its streets or meet its people without at least desiring to give them a tract or say at least something to try to help them see what lies ahead.

This isn't only an Old Testament idea. Paul described himself as the offscouring of all things- using the very language of condemned Israel (Lam. 3:45). He so wanted to see their salvation that he identified with them to this extent. By doing so he was reflecting in essence the way the Lord Jesus so identified Himself with us sinners, as our representative, " made sin" [whatever precisely this means] for the sake of saving us from that sin (2 Cor. 5:21). Quite simply, because of the reality of judgment to come, and the terrible condemnation of sin which there will be there, we receive motivation to preach and seek to " persuade men" (2 Cor. 5:10-12).

No Anger

Because God's judgment will come, we should not give way to our tendency to judge others. Psalm 37 is a Psalm about anger and resentment against others within the community of God who were persecuting the faithful. David was maligned and persecuted by his brethren more than most, and many of his Psalms reflect his inspired reflections. He says we should cease from anger and forsake wrath because the wicked will be cut off in the future judgment, and those who wait patiently for God's judgment will receive eternal justification (Ps. 37:9,10). We shouldn't " fret" because of others in the community, because there will be a future judgment and we will by grace inherit the earth (:1). This is the Psalm's repeated theme.

No Condemnation Of Others

And Paul’s reasoning about not going to law against those whom we consider to be in the wrong is similar. It’s based upon his reasoning that there will be a future judgment, and thieves, covetous persons, extortioners etc.- the very ones we might be tempted to take to law- will not inherit the Kingdom. If we take these types to law, Paul reasons, it’s as if we don’t know this basic first principle- that they will not be in the Kingdom (1 Cor. 6:1-10). And this is surely judgment enough. They don’t need our judgment now. Rather should we receive motivation to preach to others from the thought of judgment to come.

Living Daily Life In The Knowledge Of Judgment To Come For Our Actions

Above all, how we act now is in fact living out the outcome of the judgment seat. We are masters of our own destinies, choosing to accept or reject God's gracious salvation. Our actions now are therefore our judgment; the only ones to be rejected in that day are those who have chosen to reject themselves. For the Lord came more to save than to condemn.

Action In This Life

The Final Judgment

Israel hid themselves from God's face [cp. Adam] by their sins, they turned to Him the back and not the face (Jer. 32:33; Is. 59:2)

They were then driven away from God's face, He hid His face from them (Jer. 33:5)

The elder son would not 'go in' to the feast (Lk. 15:28) (= the Kingdom)

The rejected are not allowed to 'go in' to the Kingdom (Mt. 5:20; 7:21; 18:3,9; 19:17,23,24; 25:21)

Some depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 3:12); Demas departed (2 Tim. 4:10)

" Depart from me...into everlasting fire" (Mt. 25:41); " He shall say, I know you not, depart from me" (Lk. 13:27)

The foolish virgins go (s.w. " depart" ) to buy oil (Mt. 25:9)

" Depart from me" (Mt. 25:41)

The nations gather themselves together against the Lord

He gathers them together for threshing (Mic. 4:11,12)

" They began to make excuse (saying)...I pray thee have me excused" (Lk. 14:18)- s.w. reject

They will be rejected at the final judgment, although they rejected themselves.

Burning in lust (1 Cor. 7:9; Rom. 1:27); riches (James 5:3) an the tongue as a fire (James 3:6) that now burns

The final burning up of the wicked (Mt. 13:40)

If we hate our brother we are in darkness. If we go out from the brethren, we declare we are not of them (1 Jn. 2:19).

Darkness = condemnation. We separate / diakrino / judge / condemn ourselves by our separation from our brethren (Jude 22).

We can bite and devour one another (Gal. 5:15)

As the Jews did in their day of condemnation in the Babylonian invasion (Is. 9:19,20 LXX; Jer. 13:14).

I must go away and bury my father...young man went away in sorrow...people go away to their farm, trading (Mt. 8:21; 19:22; 22:5; Jn. 6:66), Judas went away to hang himself (Mt. 27:5)

The rejected go away into everlasting punishment (Mt. 25:46)

The Jews gnashed their teeth against Stephen (Acts 7:54)

As they will at the judgment (Mt. 8:12; 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51)


(1) See Harry Whittaker, Bible Studies for full documentation of this. It's a fine piece of Biblical scholarship.

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