Thursday, October 29, 2020

Impending Judgement

"The end of all things is near. Therefore he clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray" (1 Peter 4:7).

Jesus told the disciples that in only a few years He was going to return in judgment upon Jerusalem. As a result, we find a number of places in the New Testament that speak of the end of things being near at hand. Since Jesus had also said that it would be a longer time before He returned to judge the whole world, it seems that the New Testament references to the end being near have reference to the judgment upon Israel (compare Matthew 24:34 with Matthew 24:48; 25:5, 19).

Peter, writing primarily to Jewish Christians in the area around Palestine, reminded them that a judgment was coming upon the whole world, especially upon the Jewish world, in just a few years. They should prepare to meet this cultural tribulation by studying to be clear minded and self-controlled, so that when the trouble came they would be steady and able to pray. They should remain committed to one another and practice hospitality (1 Peter 4:7–9).

The judgment that is coming will start at the house of God. There was a persecution of Christians that broke out in the early and mid ’60s A.D., which was followed by the war against the Jews in A.D. 67–70. Peter wrote that the judgment upon the church is an opportunity for witness-bearing, and that Christians will be saved through these fiery trials. But when the judgment comes upon those Jews who refused the Gospel and who had actively persecuted the church, it will be a final and horrible destruction (1 Peter 4:12–19).

When we understand the nature of the cultural judgment Peter is describing, we can see how the principles he sets out have applied to many other times in the history of the church. Many generations of Christians have seen that “the end is near” in the sense of judgment about to come upon their culture. Often the cultural judgment was preceded by judgment upon the church. When we look at the murder of children and the open promotion of homosexuality in our culture, we ought to be able to read the signs of the times. When we see churches persecuted for having Christian schools or for speaking out against sodomy, we have reason to believe that “the end is near” for our culture.

There is only one way to forestall impending judgement—humble and heartfelt repentance before the face of God. Do you ever spend time confessing cultural sins or corporate sins? We have all contributed in some way to the wickedness around us. Implore God for forgiveness.