Why do we recoil at predictions of judgement? Why do we resist warnings? Do we not think that warnings of judgement to come can be words of grace as well?
Just last night, as the storm from Hurricane Harvey blew across our city, I was irritated by the flood warnings that came through my cell phone and awakened me. Had I forgotten the Nashville flood of 2010? Or, due to fear, did I not want to be reminded that real devastation is possible?
But what a gift it is to be alerted to what’s coming, whether a flood on earth or the final judgment before God. Warnings are words of grace.
In Revelation 8-11, we are introduced to the seven trumpets that come from the seventh seal opened by the slain Lamb. This Lamb is Jesus Christ. Through the trumpets, He is sending out the announcement that final judgement is coming, that devastating events now are reminders of that day, and that today is an opportunity to repent.
Catastrophic events should not be viewed as judgement on specific people for specific sins. It would not be accurate or helpful to say that the people of Houston or Mumbai have sinned worse than others and so they experienced destructive floods this week. We should be careful not to speculate about such things.
What is true, from the book of Revelation, is that all such disasters in nature, downturns in the economy, and disruptions in world affairs are opportunities for all people, everywhere, to turn to God in repentance and faith. These occurrences remind us that our hope is not in this world and so we should not worship the things of this world. More specifically, these events point to judgment to come. The seven trumpets in Revelation announce partial judgements now so all will remember that final judgement is coming. And the purpose of that announcement is to turn us to God, and to the Lamb Jesus, in repentance and faith. Only by grace, through faith, will we stand in the judgement.
God really does love the world. He really did give his only Son for the world. Whoever believes in him really will have eternal life rather than perish. It is not inconsistent with his love to warn us in ways that will turn us to his Son in repentance and faith. Rather, it is because he loves the world that he does so.
As the beauties of this world are mere foretastes of goodness to come, so the harsh events of destruction and devastation in the world foreshadow judgement to come. One stirs us up to long for heaven. The other wakes us up to prepare for it. Both are a gift of grace leading us to repentance and faith in Christ.
This weekend, read about the seven trumpets in Revelation 8-11. Focus on the final scene of Christ’s glory and everlasting reward for his servants. Pray that the kind warnings of the Lord will lead many to repentance.