Fleeing from Coming Destruction!
Every hurricane season we read or hear of human names given to these destructive storms of the Atlantic Ocean. Those living in Florida and along the Gulf coast are familiar with the warnings issued by the National Weather Bureau and tracked by satellites with great precision. In spite of the sophisticated computer forecasting, residents are not really sure how a given hurricane will turn out, how long it will last, and just where it will come ashore.
One of the recent hurricanes was named Gustav. The local newspaper headlines read, Nearly 2 million flee as Gustav bears down on Louisiana coast. With the orchestrated efforts of government agencies, that large number of people were able to escape the wrath of the high winds and torrential rains. They were safe and sound, hundreds of miles inland!
As I thought of this incident in the physical and natural realm, I was made to think of the spiritual applications that could be made. There is another destruction, of a far greater and more climactic variety, that will descend on those who dwell on earth! When John the immerser saw the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism at his hands, this greatest of prophets could see their hypocrisy and sin, and declared, You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Matt. 3:7). Those coming in repentance to Johns baptism indeed were fleeing from the wrath to come, the wrath that God would pour out on those who remained in their sin and unrepentance!
Throughout the new covenant writings, we notice that God issues warnings of a coming day of judgment. Peter says that the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men (2 Peter 3:7). The apostle then goes on to describe the horrible destruction that awaits us. The earth and its works will be burned up and the heavens will be destroyed by burning (vv. 10, 12). Paul also refers to a coming destruction: While they are saying, Peace and safety! then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape (1 Thess. 5:3). Notice especially that those in sin will not escape when Gods wrath falls!
The true Christian, on the other hand, has been rescued from such a fate. Peter says that we have escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Peter 1:4), and we have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2:20). Those who have escaped their sin now will escape the judgment on those sins when Christ returns! Paul says that Jesus rescues us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10). He also writes, God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (5:9). Notice also the utter contrast between the two destinies:
The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believedfor our testimony to you was believed (2 Thess. 1:7-10).
On the one hand, retribution and eternal destruction, on the other hand, sweet fellowship and acceptance by the Lord!
It may be important to save your life from a destructive hurricane or tornado, but it is far more vital to escape Gods present and coming wrath against sin! Have you made preparations? Are you ready?