Summary: This is the first sermon in a series. This sermon deals with God’s judgment...what is it and how do we prepare for it.
Sermon for CATM – May 25, 2008 - Recovering the Meaning of Our Sacred Words: Judgment
A priest and a rabbi were standing by the side of the road holding up signs. The rabbi’s read, "The End is Near!" The priest, on the other side of the road, held up a sign which read, "Turn before it’s too late!"
They planned to hold up their signs to each passing car. "Get a job." The first driver yelled. The second, immediately behind the first, yelled, "Leave us alone you religious freaks"! Shortly, from around the curve, they heard screeching tires and a splash followed by more screeching tires and another splash.
The rabbi looked over at his companion and said, "Do you think we should try a different sign"? The other man responded, "Perhaps, ’Bridge Out’ might be better"?
Of all the words we’re going to look at in our current series, “Recovering the Meaning of our Sacred Words”, today’s word, “Judgment” is perhaps the least popular and the most controversial word.
The idea of God judging humanity doesn’t have a lot of currency in our world today. I was surprised recently at the Ontario Prayer Breakfast when a United Church minister introduced herself as one who loved and served her judge and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I don’t know if mine was the only head to turn, but I know for sure that I wasn’t the only one who thought that was a pretty counter-cultural thing so say. I was impressed actually, because in stating that Jesus Christ is her judge and her Saviour, she was really stating something pretty profound.
What are you more comfortable with? Thinking of Jesus Christ as your Saviour, or your Judge? Why do we lean toward preferring Jesus as our Saviour? [Judge is theologically limited; Saviour conveys what Christ actually is; we don’t want to be judged, we want to be saved; we like salvation a lot more than accountability]
So, we perhaps get ‘Jesus as Saviour’, and maybe we find the notion of ‘Jesus as Judge’ just a little bit scary.
So, today we’ll look at some Scripture passages that will hopefully shed some light on what the judgment of God is, why it’s important to understand what it is, and then to perhaps grasp even more that we already do, just what an amazing Saviour we truly do have. What a fate He is saving us from! What love that makes Him do so!
I’m going to ask Shannon to read our first passage from Exodus chapter 6, verse 1 to 7.
Exodus 6:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country." 2 God also said to Moses, "I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 "Therefore, say to the Israelites: ’I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
Here we have a passage that might surprise us a bit in its use of the word “Judgment”. The situation here of course is the captivity and enslavement of the people of God. For 400 years the Jews had been under the thumb of the Egyptians and living as people enslaved.
They were enslaved initially due to their large numbers and the fear that the Pharaohs had of their numbers. They were still slaves because their slavery served the economy of the Egyptians…free labour. The Israelites were brutalized under the Egyptians and they cried out to God for deliverance.
Let’s look at verses 6 and 7. Here we have God’s promise, a divine promise, to bring freedom from slavery, to bring redemption THROUGH His judgment upon the Egyptians. To take the Israelites AS HIS OWN PEOPLE, that He would be their God. That is how God was going to choose to reveal Himself.
And of course, He did. With great power and authority, God did deliver the Jews from slavery. So here we see that God’s judgment brought about freedom, brought about redemption. God did not want the Jews to suffer under slavery, and He heard their cry and brought them to a place of liberty.