Salvation from Judgement
“Be not so terribly angry, O Lord, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people.” – Isaiah 64:9
One of the interesting things about biblical prophecy is that there are still prophecies left to be fulfilled. This is certainly true of parts of the “New” Testament. Many of Jesus’ predictions, many of the writings of the Apostles, as well as the book of Revelation, point to the future. The Church still anticipates Christ’s second coming. But even in the Old Testament there are passages that only hint at future events. For example, Isaiah talks about a worldwide peace that the world has yet to experience (see Is. 2:4).
For the most part, the words of Joel 2:28-32 have been fulfilled. The Holy Spirit has come, bringing dreams and visions and even the miraculous ability to speak other languages. When Peter quotes this passage after the coming of the Spirit (Acts 2:16-21), he means for his audience to see that the prophecy is coming true.
One important part of this passage remains to be seen, however. The “great and dreadful day of the Lord” has not come. This day is described in many parts of the Bible, and it is a day when all people who have ever lived will be brought before God’s judgment throne and asked to give an account of their actions (2 Cor. 5:10).
God sees every sinful action, stretching back to the original disobedience of Adam and Eve, and stretching forward to the renewal of all things. This has an immediate bearing on how we live our lives: do we live our lives with the awareness that every one of our actions, unkind words or unclean thoughts will someday be exposed for what they are?
But notice that even with the promise of judgment, God does not leave people to their own devices in keeping track of their sins: “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32). If human beings after Adam and Eve had to try and live up to that kind of scrutiny in their own strength, we would all stand condemned. God promises that those who turn back to him will find relief.
This is consistent with the overall biblical picture. As we have seen from previous devotions, God is not in the business of abandoning people. He created the world and promised to fix it when it was broken. He founded the nation of Israel by rescuing Abraham’s descendants from Egyptian rule. He also promised to restore that nation even when Israel had fragmented and proven unfaithful.
As the Christmas story reminds us, God sent his Son to earth to redeem and save sinners like us. He did not have to do this, and as the Gospels show, this was quite costly for God. But his love for humanity was so great that he was willing to send Jesus into a dangerous and disappointing world.
So the coming judgment should be seen through this lens: God promises that He will remember the salvation found in the name of Jesus on the day of judgment.