Summary: We often look forward to eschatological events as wonderful pie-in-the-sky times. While the fulfillment of those events will result in unimaginable blessedness, we cannot forget they are initiated by judgment. Are we ready for how they will arrive?
Be careful what you wish for.
1. Because it might not be what you expect.
2. Because you might not be as ready for it as you think.
3. Because your memory might not be as good as you think it is.
4. Because you might need to do everything you can in the present grace God gives you.
This week, my wife and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. Birthdays and anniversaries are a dangerous time for us, aren’t they men? I know that I’m pretty easy to buy for. A book, a tie, or anything with Craftsman on it. Simple, huh? But buying a present for your wife can be like navigating a minefield. Clothes ought to be easy, right? Don’t you dare get the wrong size! What about something for the house? Somehow a vacuum cleaner doesn’t have the same effect on her as a power tool does on me. It reminds me of a story I heard about a guy who forgot his anniversary all together. Their anniversary came and went and he hadn’t gotten her a thing. Needless to say, he was in big trouble. She was furious. Through her clenched teeth, she told him, “The only way you can make up for this is to get me a really good present. Tomorrow morning, I expect to find a gift in the driveway that goes from 0-200 in under 6 seconds.” And then she stomped off to bed. By the time she woke up the next morning, he was already gone to work. So, she got up and looked out the window. There, in the middle of the driveway, was a small gift-wrapped box. She put on her robe, ran out to the driveway and tore open the wrapping paper. When she opened the box, she found a brand-new bathroom scale. The husband’s funeral was scheduled two days later. That gift wasn’t what she expected, was it? She was expecting some sort of hot new sports car, but instead got a bathroom scale. But, in reality, she got exactly what she was asking for. She got something that would go 0-200 in a hurry. In our passage tonight, God talks to the Israelites about the Day of the Lord. But the way He talks to them about it is completely different than what they were wishing for. They were wishing for a Corvette and God was getting ready to give them a harsh picture of reality. Many times we look forward to end-times events as a wonderful pie-in-the-sky time. While the fulfillment of those events will result in unimaginable blessedness, we can’t forget that they are initiated by judgment. In these verses, God is letting Israel know that they aren’t ready for what they were wishing for. Are we? I want each of us to long for heaven despite the fact that judgment is coming. But you need to realize that if you’re not ready for the judgment that’s coming, you need to be careful what you wish for. The first reason to be careful what you wish for is because it might not be what you expect. Look with me at verses 18-20.
The Day of the Lord might not be what you expect. I want you to think about most of the songs that we sing. What do most of them talk about? It seems like most of them talk about going to heaven. I would say that Israel of Amos’ day would have really enjoyed those songs. I can just hear them opening Amos’ preaching service with a rousing chorus of When We All Get to Heaven. That would have been fine, but they weren’t ready for Heaven. They thought they desired the Day of the Lord, but they didn’t really know what it was all about. They didn’t have a clue what they were saying. They had created a rosy picture of the end times. Kind of like those people you’ve heard who talk about when they die, “goin’ fishin’ with the Man upstairs.” How ridiculous is that! Heaven isn’t about fishing. And the man upstairs isn’t going to be there unless you live on the bottom floor of an apartment building with a Christian in the apartment above you. Many times we think of heaven as an escape. We look at the trials and troubles we go through here and long for a day when we won’t have them anymore. No more sickness and pain and heartache and tears, right? Right—if you’re saved. If you’re ready. And unless Jesus is your Lord and Master, you’re not ready. Israel wasn’t ready. Were they God’s chosen people? Yes. Had He cared for them and protected them and given them every opportunity to obey Him? Yes. But did they? No. But they still were longing for the sweet by-and-by. They were still looking for a heavenly escape from their current troubles. But what did the Lord tell them in verse 19? He said that for them, escaping the troubles of this world would be like running from a lion and running into a bear. And then running away from the bear and finally getting to the safety and security of the place they were longing for—home. Finally getting home and leaning up against the wall to relax. And then what happens? As soon as they take the first breath of relaxation, they get bit by a snake. You know you’re having a bad day when that happens to you. You know you’re having a bad day when all the light you’ve been looking forward to turns to darkness. When all of the heavenly bliss you expect turns to wrath and judgment. The fact is that many people think they’re going to heaven and are lost as they can be. Many people have called Jesus “Lord, Lord” but in that day He will say He never knew them. There is one thing about the Left Behind books that saddens me. They have left the impression with many people that they will have a second chance at salvation after the Rapture. That’s not what the Bible teaches. As a matter of fact, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 teaches the opposite. It teaches that once the Antichrist comes on the scene after the Rapture, those who had already refused to be saved will be eternally deluded and condemned. No escape. If you have not submitted your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no escape. No matter how bad things get for you here, they’re eternally better than they will be. For you, the Day of the Lord will be eternally awful. Whether that day comes at your death or the Rapture—it won’t be what you expect. It won’t be what you expect, and you might not be as ready for it as you think. The second reason to be careful what you wish for is you might not be as ready for it as you think. Look at verses 21-23.