How Long, O Lord?
Open Your Bible
Revelation 6:1-17, Revelation 7:1-17, Psalm 13:1-6, Ephesians 1:11-14
Every year, wildfires break out on America’s west coast, decimating forests and grasslands, threatening homes, and turning the sunset skies into a haze of pink. The power of fire is terrifying and awesome, and we’ve all seen the danger it poses to homes and lives in its path. While fire holds a mighty power for destruction, the land on the west coast actually needs a certain amount of these fires; they clean forest floors, pare down the plants that consume the water, kill plant diseases, and release seeds from trees that require fire to start the next generation. Don’t let the power and terror of fire mask the severe good that it serves.
The coming of God’s judgment is a terror to the wicked, but it is a comfort to His children. God’s judgment is not blind punishment. It is the setting right of all things. God comes to judge sin and avenge injustice. And in Scripture we see that He holds back judgment for a time so that many more might come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). To those who trust in Him, His judgment is a refining fire that strips away sin and removes the sting of death. God’s judgment sets the world right again.
He comes to undo the curse and make all things new. God’s judgment carries this beautiful promise: “They will no longer hunger; they will no longer thirst; the sun will no longer strike them, nor will any scorching heat” (Revelation 7:16). What a joyful declaration! Our king will take away the curse of sin and death and bring us to a place of satiety and comfort. I love that the God of the universe cares whether or not I’m hungry or too hot. Our personal comfort seems so small on the universal scale of things. God’s concern for even our thirst is an indication of His tender, personal love.
God’s final judgment comes to reveal His reign. For all things are His. The whole book of Revelation (indeed the whole canon of Scripture) is about Christ, and this is what it says about Him: He’s seated on a throne (v.17); He is wise and powerful, never caught off guard (v.12 ); He shelters us, and we are safe in Him (v.15); and His gospel is true (v.10).
The burning fire of God’s judgment is unquestionably a terror to those who do not know Him. But to those who are called by His name—to His own children—the coming of His judgment heralds the setting right of all things. He comes to rescue His children and bring them home.