This sermon is part of the sermon series "Holy War". See series.
I went to a university that was known for its basketball team. The students who attended the games (like me), were known as the sixth man on the team, because of our persistent vocal support of what was going on on the court. We had all sorts of cheers, but one of the things we were best known for was our creativity in taunting the opponent. Many of these taunts were sophomoric, but our best taunts were reserved for those individuals whose guilt, whose worthiness for the taunt, transcended their mere presence on the opposing team. So one year when the player was introduced who had earlier been accused of assaulting a pizza delivery man, he was greeted with empty pizza boxes thrown onto the floor. Or when another player who had been arrested for joyriding was introduced, he was greeted by a sea of car keys jingling. The list goes on, and it doesn't get any nicer. My freshman year, in fact, we all got a letter from the president of the university telling us to reign it in. It had gone too far.
There comes a point in basketball, even in ACC basketball, when taunting ceases to be good, clean fun and becomes instead the quite destructive language of the bully. For taunts are, in fact, the native language of the bully. Long before he dominates his victim physically, the bully will almost always seek to humiliate his victim verbally. In fact, sometimes that's all he's got to do to get what he wants. Taunting is a powerful form of speech. Some of us have very unpleasant memories of having been bullied, of having been taunted publicly.
In essence, the taunt is an attempt to demonstrate that the victim deserves what he is about to get, and that there is nothing he can do to stop it. Which is why for most of us, real taunting is left behind. The stakes, honestly, are just too high for that kind of speech. It's hard to even imagine a contest in which it would be appropriate for somebody like you or me to taunt somebody like you or me.
Now, all of this explains why it is especially shocking to discover that the best taunter in all of history isn't the playground bully or your favorite political pundit. No, the best taunter, the one who has come up with the most creative lines, the most devastating taunts, the most severe mockery on record is God. But unlike the competition of sports, politics, and the immaturity of childhood, God does not taunt out of insecurity, perverseness, or meanness. No, God mocks sinners. He does so as an expression of his persistent opposition to evil. The bully taunts because justice in fact is not on his side, and he's really trying to deceive everyone around him that that isn't the case. God taunts precisely because justice is on his side. And mockery is in fact what sin deserves.
Does that fit with your picture of a good God, a loving God, a holy God? I suspect it may not. But regardless of what you think God is like, this is the God who has revealed himself in the Bible, especially in the Book of Nahum. Written in the middle of the seventh century B.C. by a prophet whose name means comfort. Today we are going to conclude our study, and I want you to consider what it means that God, the God revealed in the Book of Nahum, the God revealed throughout the whole Bible, does not coddle sinners. He doesn't wink at sin or sinners. No, he mocks them, even as he judges them. Consider that, and then ask yourself, What would it take to keep God from someday mocking me?
There are few passages in the entire Bible more harrowing than these two chapters. You've got to go to places like Revelation chapter 9 or Revelation 18 and 19 to find anything like its equal. We would like, I think, to write off such a passage as just the bloodthirsty ranting of an aggrieved prophet who lived a long time ago, who was talking about people who lived a long time ago and don't exist anymore, and so let's just move on to something more relevant. But the truth of the matter is that though the Assyrians don't exist anymore, the God who spoke these words still exists, and he is the same as he ever was. So if we are to understand this passage, more importantly, if we are to understand the God who reveals himself through it, we need to come to grips with what it means for God to taunt and mock sin and sinners. We'll do that as we come to grips with the following truth.
Here is the truth we've got to grapple with: Judgment is coming because God is opposed to your sin, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. First, judgment is coming. Second, because God is personally opposed to your sin. And third, there is nothing you can do to stop it. As we consider this passage this morning, consider it seriously and carefully. Consider it as if your life depended on it, because it does. What would it take to ensure that the story of Assyria's downfall isn't also the story of your downfall?
Judgment is coming.
First, judgment is coming. Look with me at chapter 2:
The scatterer has come up against you. Man the ramparts; watch the road; dress for battle; collect all your strength.
For the Lord is restoring the majesty of Jacob as the majesty of Israel, for plunderers have plundered them and ruined their branches.
The shield of his mighty men is red; his soldiers are clothed in scarlet. The chariots come with flashing metal on the day he musters them; the cypress spears are brandished. The chariots race madly through the streets; they rush to and fro through the squares; they gleam like torches; they dart like lightning. He remembers his officers; they stumble as they go, they hasten to the wall; the siege tower is set up. The river gates are opened; the palace melts away; its mistress is stripped; she is carried off, her slave girls lamenting, moaning like doves and beating their breasts. Nineveh is like a pool whose waters run away. "Halt! Halt!" they cry, but none turns back. Plunder the silver, plunder the gold! There is no end of the treasure or of the wealth of all precious things.
Desolate! Desolation and ruin! Hearts melt and knees tremble; anguish is in all loins; all faces grow pale!
Now skip down to chapter 3, verse 1: "Woe to the bloody city, all full of lies and plunder—no end to the prey! The crack of the whip, and rumble of the wheel, galloping horse and bounding chariot! Horsemen charging, flashing sword and glittering spear, hosts of slain, heaps of corpses, dead bodies without end—they stumble over the bodies!"
The first ten verses of chapter 2 are a prophetic vision of the fall of Nineveh. Then there is a brief reprise of that vision in the first three verses of chapter 3. This is extraordinary language, vivid, sharp, penetrating. It's as if Nahum is right there on the day that Nineveh falls. The pictures are exactly what you would expect of someone who himself is immersed in the fog of war; they're jumbled and scattered. The perspective constantly shifts. First we see the advancing army approaching, and then all of a sudden we're down inside the city on the streets as the city tries to get her defenses together. But panic soon sets in. A defense is mounted, but as soon as it's mounted, it seems that the whole thing collapses, and it's all over.
Before you know what's going on, the battle is done, and yet the terror has just begun. People are weeping, they're moaning, they're running for their lives. And there is a whole other group of people who are running, but these people are not weeping. They are shouting; they are joyful. The pillage, the plundering, the mayhem has just begun. Finally the dust settles there at the end of chapter 3, verse 3. Everyone left alive is being led off into captivity, into slavery and exile. But what really dominates the senses by the time you get to the end of this vision are the bodies. Piles and piles of the dead and dying everywhere. So many that you can hardly move without stumbling over a corpse. It's nauseating in its detail.
What's the point? What is Nahum doing here? Nahum isn't primarily trying to shock or sicken his readers. The point of this vividness, the point of feeling like you are right there in the middle of it all, is to convey the overwhelming sense of certainty that this is going to happen. You can sense it all through the language. Nahum's vision isn't given as one possible outcome among many. He's not even recording this as a threat: Guys, look, if you don't repent, this is what's going to happen to you. No, that was Jonah's mission a hundred years before. Nahum has been given a very different mission. He was given a vision of judgment day for the Assyrians. The day on which there would be no second chances. The day on which there would be no last minute appeals for mercy. Nahum saw the future—a future that had been decreed, that had been set unmovable and unchangeable by God himself. He just had the chance to see it in advance, and he wrote it down. It's incredible when you think about it, because when he wrote this down, and, presumably, when he spoke it, in the middle of the seventh century, Assyria was at the height of her power, and she did not tolerate opposition.
If you're here this morning and you're not a Christian (and even if you are), I assume as you read this you are offended by it, bothered by it. Friend, don't miss the point of it. Do not be fooled by how well life might be going on right now. Do not be fooled by your own sense of safety and prosperity. God has decreed a day of judgment. He has decreed a day of reckoning. He has told you that it is coming. He has told you in his Word, and he has given you even in history hints and warnings that all will not always go on as it seems to have gone on. God sent the flood; he has given us a picture of the fall of Assyria and the fall of Canaan. He continues even in our daily lives to give us warnings that this world is not permanent; life will not always go on as you think it will. Life is unpredictable. If you know that life may not go on always as it is now, what do you do with that? You examine your life and you prepare.
If you're here this morning and you're a Christian, let me remind you that Nahum didn't write this prophecy as a threat. In fact, the primary audience of Nahum's words is not Assyria, but Israel. He wrote this to assure God's people that despite their suffering, despite the world's opposition, despite the fact that they were practically slaves in their own land, God was in control, and there would be a day of reckoning some day. There would be a day when God would hold the whole world to account, a day in which he would rescue his people. You see that one glimmer, that one bright spot there at the beginning of chapter 2: "For the Lord is restoring the majesty of Jacob as the majesty of Israel, for plunderers have plundered them and ruined their branches."
Christian, in this life we are not called on to rejoice in the destruction of the wicked. No, our calling in this life is to hold out hope, even as we have found hope—to tell people the way of escape from the judgment that is coming. But in this life we are also to put our hope in the fact that God keeps his promises, that God will one day utterly overthrow the oppression of sin and death and Satan, and on that day he will finally and fully bring his people into glory, into a life of love, into a life of perfect fellowship with him. The image there in verse 2 of branches that have been laid waste, that image is actually the image of a beautiful, lush garden that, though it has been destroyed and trampled on, is going to be restored. This verse has echoes of the Garden of Eden back in Genesis 2, but it's not looking back; it's looking forward. It's looking forward to a much better place than Eden ever was: a new heaven and a new earth.
So Christian, do not let your vision be clouded by today's circumstances. Do not let your hopes falter because today is hard. Live today in the certainty of that day coming in the future, for God will exult in his people and make all things new.
God is personally opposed to your sin.
Judgment is coming because God is personally opposed to your sin. Look with me in chapter 2, starting at verse 11:
Where is the lions' den, the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion and lioness went, where his cubs were, with none to disturb? The lion tore enough for his cubs and strangled prey for his lionesses; he filled his caves with prey and his dens with torn flesh.
Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions. I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall no longer be heard.
Woe to the bloody city all full of lies and plunder—no end to the prey! The crack of the whip, and rumble of the wheel, galloping horse and bounding chariot! Horsemen charging, flashing sword and glittering spear, hosts of slain, heaps of corpses, dead bodies without end—they stumble over the bodies! And all for the countless whorings of the prostitute, graceful and of deadly charms, who betrays nations with her whorings, and peoples with her charms.
Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face; and I will make nations look at your nakedness and kingdoms at your shame. I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle. And all who look at you will shrink from you and say, Wasted is Nineveh; who will grieve for her? Where shall I seek comforters for you?
The vision of Nineveh's fall in chapter 2 and then that short reprise of the fall in chapter 3 are in both cases followed by taunts, declarations of God's personal opposition. Twice in this section God declares, "I am against you." We see that there in chapter 2 verse 13, and again in chapter 3 verse 5. Literally, what God says there is, "Behold me, I am against you." It's not an invading army that is against you, Assyria; it's the God of the universe. This isn't just a military defeat, Nineveh; this is divine judgment, personally delivered.
Why is God personally opposed to Assyria? He tells them in those taunts and those declarations. He tells them that it is for their brutality against the surrounding nations. We see that in verses 11-13 of chapter 2, and he tells them that it's for their harlotry in chapter 3 verse 4. He compares them in these taunts first to a den of brutal lions, who just rip and tear their prey to feed their young. The prey of Assyria wasn't gazelle and deer; the prey of Assyria was the wealth of other nations and the lives of their citizens sold to slavery. God calls Assyria here a harlot, inflamed with lust who has enslaved other nations through prostitution and through witchcraft.
If you're familiar with the Old Testament, you know that often the imagery of prostitution or harlotry is used to describe idolatry. That's probably not what's primarily in view in this verse. The idea here seems to be that not only was Assyria a brutal military power, but she was a rapacious economic power, using her economic power and her religious cult to satisfy her lust for wealth and profit. So just as a man has to pay a prostitute to have sex, so the nations were reduced to paying Assyria for protection and for the right and the privilege to engage in international trade and commerce.
Nahum describes the city there in chapter 3 verse 1 as full of lies and plunder, literally a city full of profiteering. These verses are an indictment of her commercial practices, of her international trade. Assyria was far from being concerned about the effect of her economic policies on local populations scattered across the Middle East. She was happy to victimize them. She was happy to be an international profiteer in order to enrich herself, even as other nations were impoverished and drained of their wealth. God is judging Assyria because of her unjust treatment of the people around her. It's interesting that he doesn't say anything about judging them because they worshiped idols instead of worshiping the one true God, though that was true. He doesn't even have to get there, though, in order to condemn them. He doesn't need to look any further than how they treated the people around them, than their failure to love their neighbors.
Not only does God explain why he's opposed to the Assyrians, but he actually begins to mock them as he judges them. The kings of Assyria styled themselves as the lions of the known world. God now turns that image on its head and laughs at them: Where now is the lion's den? Nineveh considered herself a city full of grace and charm, and in some ways I'm sure we would have been impressed with it. It was one of the greatest cities of the ancient world, beautiful and sophisticated. Nineveh thought of herself as deserving of honor, like a noble and beautiful woman. But God looks at her charms, God looks at her sophistication, and mocks: You are nothing more than a common whore.
Then he judges in a way that is fitting to Nineveh's sins. God will personally leave this ravenous lion now to starve, cut off from all prey. And those young cubs, those princes that Nineveh was fond of feeding, are going to be food for others now, devoured by the sword. God will personally strip off this madam's finery and treat her with contempt. What's more, those who were normally enthralled with her beauty will now be repulsed by it. No one will be sorry at her downfall.
Again, let me speak to you. If you don't identify yourself as a Christian, this is the most important thing for you to understand out of this passage: God is personally opposed to you and your sin. Your sins may not reach the heights of Assyrian brutality and greed, but the fact remains: God made you. He didn't have to make you, but he did make you, and he made you in love and he made you to return that love to him in a relationship of love with him, an exclusive and perfect relationship. And he made you as well to love your neighbor as yourself. And friend, you have not done that. Not only have you not loved God and not loved your neighbor, but you have actually ordered your own life around loving what is most important to you, which is you. I don't need to know you to be able to say that with confidence, because I know me, and that's what I'm like, left to myself.
This is what it means to be a sinner, to live in a fallen world. It means to be someone who has rejected all that we ought to love and instead put all of our love in the one place where it should not be: on ourselves. The God who made you, who made you in love and who has a claim on your life, is committed to holding you accountable for this great act of hatred that you have committed, this great miscarriage of love. And like the judgment meted out to Assyria, it will come directly from the hand of God to you, and it will be perfectly just. It will be suited to your sins, not mine, not your neighbors. It will fit you perfectly.
Jesus talked about this judgment by using the language of hell, a place of weeping, of gnashing teeth, of darkness, of torment. Friends, it's a terrible image. It is much like the image that we see here in Nahum. Many have tried to soften that image by trying to explain hell as simply the absence of God, which turns out to be a pretty sad and loveless existence. Friends, that's not the image that the Bible gives us of God's judgment. That's not the image that either the New Testament or the Old Testament gives us of hell. Hell is not just an absence. Hell is God's giving people like you and like me what we deserve—his mocking, derisive, tormenting presence for all eternity.
Christian, in this terrible picture of God's opposition to sin, I want you to consider two things. First, consider what it means to be a Christian. What it means to be someone whom God has forgiven. It means that unlike others around you, God is not against you. To the contrary, because of Jesus Christ, God is now actually for you. Christian, is that the way you relate to God? As someone who is radically, fundamentally for you? I fear that too many of us who have even been reconciled to God through Christ, who know what it means to be forgiven by Jesus and to be loved by God, continue to relate to God as if he's someone that we have to cajole and convince to be on our side. Friends, nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing. So when, because of your circumstances or ongoing struggles with sin, you struggle to believe that God is for you, at that moment do not forget that because you are in Christ, whatever your troubles are, they are not evidence that God is against you. The Cross is proof—and you need no more proof—that come what may, God is for you in Jesus Christ.
The second thing I want you to think about from this picture of God's opposition, Christian, is that in your ongoing struggle with sin and temptation, consider adopting God's approach of mockery. You understand that sin is constantly trying to deceive us, to convince us that it's better than it is, that it's stronger than it is, that it's more satisfying than it is, that it's more compelling than it is. And before we know it, if we listen to that line, we've bought into it, and we find ourselves deceived and entangled once again.
There are many ways that Scripture gives us to fight sin. I want you to consider this approach: Take that sinful temptation that seems so compelling, that seems so alluring, so attractive, and drag it out for some good old-fashioned mockery. Don't be allured by it. Lift its skirts up and throw some filth at it. See it for what it really is—tawdry, empty, cheap, deceptive, repulsive. So when you're tempted to look at that image on the internet, say to yourself, I was created for so much better. This is not even real. When you're tempted to give yourself over to the pursuit of wealth, say to it, What does a little bit of cheap metal have on me, who has been given an inheritance in heaven? Do you see what I'm talking about here? Begin to cultivate in yourself the same sort of derisive scorn and contempt for sin that God has.
Luther said that in this sort of temptation and struggle, contempt is the best and easiest method. Laugh your adversary to scorn and ask who it is with whom you are talking. This isn't counsel to be arrogant in the face of your sin, as if you're stronger than you are. No, it's simply recognition that we cannot be allured by something that we find repulsive. We cannot be deceived by something that we see to be foolish. Adopt God's perspective on your sin.
As a society we cannot ignore that one of the things this passage confronts us with is that God not only judges individuals, but he holds nations and cultures accountable. That doesn't mean that we have permission to declare that an earthquake in Haiti was God's specific judgment for some sort of national sin they committed. We don't know that. It does mean that we need to remember that God is active in history, and any society that continues to set itself against him and his laws cannot expect to go on forever but must expect to experience God's judgment in this world. This is not an argument for the establishment of a Christian political state; rather, it is simply recognition that God—not any human constitution—will be the final standard and guarantor of justice in this world. God will not be mocked by our human systems of justice. So it is right and good for us as Christians to work together with people of every faith and people of no faith for the establishment of laws, economic policies, and international relationships that promote justice rather than injustice. God not only judges individuals at the end of time, he will hold nations and cultures accountable.
There is nothing we can do to stop God's judgment.
The final point I want us to think about is this: There is nothing we can do to stop God's judgment. Look with me in chapter 3, starting at verse 8:
Are you better than Thebes that sat by the Nile, with water around her, her rampart a sea, and water her wall? Cush was her strength; Egypt too, and that without limit; Put and the Libyans were her helpers.
Yet she became an exile; she went into captivity; her infants were dashed in pieces at the head of every street; for her honored men lots were cast, and all her great men were bound in chains. You also will be drunken; you will go into hiding; you will seek a refuge from the enemy. All your fortresses are like fig trees with first-ripe figs—if shaken they fall into the mouth of the eater. Behold, your troops are women in your midst. The gates of your land are wide open to your enemies; fire has devoured your bars.
Draw water for the siege; strengthen your forts; go into the clay; tread the mortar; take hold of the brick mold! There will the fire devour you; the sword will cut you off. It will devour you like the locust. Multiply yourselves like the locust; multiply like the grasshopper! You increased your merchants more than the stars of the heavens. The locust spreads its wings and flies away.
Your princes are like grasshoppers, your scribes like clouds of locusts settling on the fences in a day of cold—when the sun rises, they fly away; no one knows where they are.
Your shepherds are asleep, O king of Assyria; your nobles slumber. Your people are scattered on the mountains with none to gather them. There is no easing your hurt; your wound is grievous. All who hear the news about you clap their hands over you. For upon whom has not come your unceasing evil?
This entire final section of the book is one long, extended taunt of Assyria by God himself. One by one, God picks up all the things that Assyria would have prided herself in, that she would have been convinced, "This will keep me from the day of trouble." One by one, God ridicules those things. You think you're better than others? You're not, God says. You remember Thebes, the capital of Egypt, the other superpower? She had a river for defense, just like you do. She had tons of allies, lots of troops. You remember her? You should; you conquered her, and now you are going to experience the same thing, because you are not even as impressive a city as she was. You think you're mighty? Your fortresses are ripe for the picking; your troops are weak and worthless. You think your economy and your wealth are going to save you? You think your great government, your superior bureaucracy, is going to keep trouble at bay? Your merchants and your officials, they're all like locusts. As soon as trouble comes, they're going to fly away and you are not going to know where they are. They are going to betray you.
All of these taunts are summed up by the taunt there in the middle that we see there in verse 14. God actually begins to urge them on: Go ahead, get ready, work hard, prepare your defenses, make more bricks. And there I will destroy you. It gets even worse. In the final verse, God makes clear that not only is judgment coming, not only is resistance futile, but when everyone else hears about it, they are going to cheer. God doesn't want them to miss it. It's an incredible statement: You're going to die. You're not going to be around to hear what's going to happen next so let me tell you. The nations are going to have a party. They're going to dance on your grave.
Is it really necessary for God to rub their noses in what he's about to do to them? What is God doing here? What God is doing is giving them what they deserve as only a just and good God can. We must understand that the pride that would set itself up against God, the pride that would think that it has a defense against God's righteous claims on our lives deserves not only to be defeated—and it does deserve to be defeated—it actually deserves to be mocked. I think we can understand this because this is what we tend to do. This is how we tend to react when we encounter pride in other people. We may not say it out loud, but don't we all tend to mock pretentiousness, even in the quietness of our own minds? Don't we all actually take a certain amount of pleasure, a kind of righteous pleasure, when we see the prideful person taken down a notch or two? If we rightly feel this, even though our own motives are mixed and corrupted by our own pride and our own envy at somebody else's success, how must the holy and righteous God of the universe feel when confronted with our pride?
Martin Luther said, "To wish that someone be turned into nothing is the worst of all curses, and it is this that sinners wish of God." We wish God to be of no consequence in our lives. At best we wish him to be made in our own image, to be like us and to like the things that we like and condemn the things that we condemn. At worst, we simply wish him gone, so that we can get on with our own lives, lived to our own pleasure and for our own profit. Friends, the pride of this is almost unbearable when we stop and consider it. We think we are masters of our own lives, and yet look what happens to us when a little snow falls from the sky. Much more seriously, what happens when the ground underneath our feet shakes just a little bit? We can barely cope, and yet the God of the universe holds the entire universe in the palm of his hands. It is right, therefore, that God mocks our pride. For it is really we who are nothing in comparison to him.
Friend, what are you counting on? What are you counting on as your defense against God's final judgment in your life? Is it things like what Assyria was trusting in, that you're better than others or at least no worse than everyone else? Is it your wealth? Is it your abilities and attainments? Or is it just simply your hope that there really is no such thing as a God; he's not there, and so there's not going to be a judgment anyway so you don't need to worry about it. Maybe you put your confidence in the fact that everyone thinks well of you. Or that your kids have turned out great. Or that your parents think you're wonderful. Whatever you are putting your confidence in, if it is something about you, something you feel or think, something that you've done, something that you have, that confidence is misplaced.
It's as misplaced as Nineveh's confidence was misplaced, having been put in the strength of her walls and the River Euphrates that surrounded her. For in 612 BC, about 40 years after Nahum prophesied the fall of Nineveh, the Euphrates flooded just as attackers were advancing, and the walls were undermined for a distance of something like two miles. The armies clad in scarlet, we're told by the historical record, poured in.
Friend, your defense is no better, no matter how good it looks right now. God is determined to judge you for your sin, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. But there is something that he can do. In fact, there is something that God has already done. Two thousand years ago, God himself, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, took on human flesh and became a man in Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a life that was unique from every other human life that has ever been lived, because it was a life that did not deserve judgment. Then he took that life, and he offered it as a sacrificial substitute for people who did deserve to be judged. On the cross Jesus Christ was not merely condemned to death by Jewish and Roman authorities. No, on the cross Jesus Christ was condemned by God the Father. For on the cross, Jesus died as a sin bearer, bearing not his own sin but the sins of people like you and me.
Under the curse of God Jesus hung on the cross, and there he heard mocking voices. But they were not merely the mocking voices of passersby. Behind those voices was the mocking voice of God himself, mocking sin as it deserved. On the cross Jesus bore the shame not merely of a public execution, but he bore the shame that our sin deserves before a living and holy God, and he bore it to the very end. Friend, judgment for sin was poured out on the innocent Christ so that guilty people like you and me could be forgiven, could be reconciled to God, could be restored into a relationship with God, could be declared not guilty. We are accepted not because of anything we've done, but simply for putting our faith in what he has done.
This is what the rescue of Israel through the judgment of Assyria is all about. That's how Nahum started this prophecy. Assyria was going to be judged because the Lord had determined to save Israel. That historical judgment points forward to a far more important historical judgment: the judgment that was poured out on Christ so that God's people might be restored.
You cannot stop God's judgment. It will happen. You simply need to consider: will you experience God's judgment of you in Christ, turning away from your sins and putting your faith in him? Or will you choose to bear that judgment yourself? You've mocked God long enough. You don't need another day of that. Turn to him today. Turn to him today so that you will never have to hear him mocking you.
Brothers and sisters, you who have already put your faith in Christ, let me encourage you. Consider anew what Jesus has done for you. The mocking you deserved, he endured. The judgment you earned, he took. Judgment day is coming, but if you are in Christ it holds no terror for you. You are like a man in the middle of the city there in Nineveh. The walls have fallen, the enemy is pouring in, and yet you have found a hiding place, and you are safe and secure. Christian, Jesus is your hiding place. Because of him, the Lord is no longer against you. No, because of Jesus, the Lord is on your side.
Michael Lawrence is pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon, and author of "Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church" (Crossway).