Summary: We all will have an eternity, but will it be with God; don’t trifle with your eternity.
Children look forward to special days, well, we all do don’t we? Holidays, prize-givings, birthdays, Christmas, Easter. How many of us look forward to the Judgement Day of the Lord?
Today is supposed to be the day in the Christian calendar when we think about the Last Judgement Day – we could call it “Last Judgement Sunday”. It doesn’t have the same ring about it as Advent, Christmas, Easter Day, or Ascension Day. (‘Look forward to Judgement Day’ a sermon preached by Joel Pankow)
Is it a day we should look forward to? Look at what Job said 19:23-29. Even though he was in pain and despair on his dung pile, he saw a flash of hope (even joy) (v25) “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” And again (v26) “yet in my flesh I will see God;” (v27) “How my heart yearns within me!“ His heart was pounding with anticipation of the wonderful day. He would be free!! Free of pain and anguish. Free of his friends’ useless babblings. Free of this world’s emptiness, it’s striving for fulfilment and substance in material things.
But, he also had a warning for his friends, judgement. (vv28, 29) "If you say, ‘How we will hound him, since the root of the trouble lies in him,’ you should fear the sword yourselves; for wrath will bring punishment by the sword, and then you will know that there is judgment.” There will be judgment for us all. Jesus in his parable talks of separating out the sheep and the goats. His people from those who are not his people.
Jesus was very firm and clear about a subject we often like to forget about: heaven and hell. We often talk about going to heaven, almost as if everyone is going there, but, ‘Don’t mention the other place please, it might be a bit sensitive; it might even offend.’ In our politically correct world, it is wrong to cause any form of offense. We need to be careful about some of the laws that are coming into place. It is our duty to draw people’s attention to the fact that following anyone except Jesus Christ is wrong and leads to hell. Mohammedans may not like to hear this – tough – it is true! Jesus says that there is no other way to heaven except through him John 14:6 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” But, do the Mohammedans want these laws? No, the only people that want these laws are those who do not want to know the truth, but would prefer to live in a comfortable world now and forget about the future, after this life. Luke 12:15-20, the rich man who was doing so well that he had to tear down his barns to store and hoard all his crops, then one day (v20) "… God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.’”
When God turns to you and says “This very night your life will be demanded of you” how will you respond, how will you feel? Do you look forward to the coming day of judgement?
The eternal destination.
What does Jesus tell us about heaven and hell? They are for eternity. (v46) "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
This will include all people (v32) “All the nations will be gathered before him”. As Paul reminds us Phil 2:9-11 “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”, which echoes the words of the prophet Isaiah (45:23). Also Rom 14:9 “Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.”
Finally, let us remind ourselves of Jesus words in John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him."
None shall be missing; all shall have to come to him on that great and terrible day.
And there is an eternity for both states. Heaven is an eternity with God. Hell is an eternity without God. It is a time of remorse; of “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. What hell is like exactly we do not know; there are but indications that it is something to be feared and avoided. We do know it is a place without the presence of God. Revelation refers to it being a lake of fire and lava.