A couple of weeks ago, I had perhaps one of the saddest and yet most enthralling dreams ever. This dream was so potent that I woke up in tears. This dream was so vivid that I found myself remembering every detail. This dream was so important, that my scripture readings from the following week reinforced the lesson I took from this dream. The dream began as I and many other people were working in a warehouse of some type. The place was mammoth, and was filled with hundreds if not thousands of workers. We were told to gather at a certain place for some type of announcement. As we waited there I could see an envoy of people approaching. They had a different look upon them, almost alien in nature. As the envoy approached we were told that our governments could no longer bare the responsibilities that the world had placed upon it, and through its wisdom had turned over control of everything to those of this envoy. At this time, we were standing a few feet away from our new world leaders with nothing but a railing between us. As the new world leader began to speak, a feeling of dread came over me. I began to hear this creature’s promises and realized that this was perhaps the worst experience that has ever occurred in all of our recorded history. There was finality in these events, a conclusiveness which opened the door to a great ending. In my despair, I turned my back on these new leaders and uttered the phrase “come quickly Lord Jesus”. At that moment, at that pivotal moment in time we began to rise and to flow out of the warehouse. It was slow and gradual. It was a moment before I and the others with me realized, that this was the Rapture. This was the moment that all Christians wait for. That moment when Jesus Christ returns for His Church. As it began to occur to people what was happening a sort of celebration occurred. Everyone was rejoicing, and hugging. I remember finding my wife and kissing her as we all flowed along, out the doors of the warehouse and through the fields outside. We began to realize that as we looked upon those new world leaders, that we had actually looked upon the face of the Antichrist and his minions. As I looked I saw thousands of people flowing in from many directions like a bunch of cars coming off of the entrance ramps onto a major highway near a megacity. We were gradually going up! I had not met Jesus yet, but I knew we were heading towards him. Then I began to look for my daughter, and other people began to look for their loved one’s-expecting them to be there. I could not find my daughter. She wasn’t there. She wasn’t included in this great multitude. I looked back over my life and hers, I saw the points in her life where the opportunity came to share the good news of salvation, and I did not step up. She was meant to be saved, but I never took the action to insure her salvation. This time of joy had become a time of mourning for those who were missed during man’s time of witness. I awoke in tears, realizing my own shortcomings as Christ’s witness to not only my own family, but to the world around me as well.
Earlier I mentioned getting hit with a scripture verse, one that went hand in hand with my dream. It was from the book of Amos chapter four verse twelve. In it the prophet Amos gives this warning to the people of Israel: “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” Wow! What a message. Prepare to meet your God! This short five word warning is by far the most powerful message that we can get from the Scriptures. It is a message that is for all people, it is a message that it always pertinent, and it is a warning that shall never be cancelled! Prepare to meet your God!
Are we prepared to meet Him? We must all meet him. Everyone in this room today will one day stand before God in judgement. Everyone in the town of Pittsfield will one day stand before God in judgement. Everyone in Massachusetts will one day stand before God in judgement. Everyone in this country, everyone in this world will one day stand before God in judgement. It doesn’t matter, whether you’re a Baptist or a Catholic, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or a Muslim. All of us will stand before God in judgement. In Hebrews 9:27 it is written that it “is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement” This verse tells us two things. Firstly, we will die, secondly, we will be judged. In Romans 14:12 we get a little more information about the judgement. It is written “so then each of us shall give account of himself to God” We shall stand before God and have to explain all our actions in this life. Why did we help that little old lady across the street when we were twelve. Why did we go to Church every Sunday, why did we stop to help that young mother of 3 whose car was broken down on the side of the road… Why did you push that kid in first grade. Why did you steal that money when nobody was looking, why did you snub your Christian brother, why do you look at pornographic sites when everyone else is sleeping. Why did you hit your spouse. Why do you take God’s name in vain. Why did you not lead that person to the Lord? Everything, we have done we shall have to give an account for. All of us. It is further written in 2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” Not only are we giving an account before God, but we are giving an account before Jesus Christ. He sits in judgement over us. But some people may have thought that Jesus was just a myth, but you will stand before him and give an account of everything that you have ever done. Listen to this account of what that day will be like. In Revelation 20:11-15 we read “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” No matter how great or insignificant your life may seem, we shall all stand on equal footing before the judgement throne of Christ. Here, we will not be able to talk our way out of what we have done in the past. There is no fancy lawyer who will talk in riddles to try and cast doubt of your sin. There will be no jury to deliberate and determine if there is sufficient evidence to convict you. For those that are convicted, there is no chance of appeal, or getting out early on good behavior. Christ’s judgement is final. You see, I think that it seems as if there is vast library in heaven. Each book, or volume of books has a person’s name running down the spine. The book of Norm, the book of Lisa, the book of Janet, the book of Michelle, the book of Bill. Some of us have a short story, while others have volumes. The pages are filled with all that we have done, good and bad in this life. In this life that we live, we have become authors in our own right. Preparing a detailed story of our life, to be read before all at the great white throne of judgement. You know that secret thing you did all those years ago? It’s in there. It will be read for all to hear. Nothing will be left in secret. But there is another book there by the throne of judgement that not one of us has put a pen to. This book was written by Jesus. In it is the name of every person who has ever made the choice to give their life over to Jesus. Christians are excited about this book because they know that because they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior that their names are in that Book of Life. You see, that Book of Life, overrules all that is in our own volumes of books. It divides the Christian from every do-gooder ever in existence. It covers the Christian, not from being found guilty of sin, but rather it shows that Judge Jesus has already endured the punishment for your sin. It is like a “get out of jail for free” card. You’re guilty, but you don’t have to go through sentencing because when Jesus died on that cross, he bore all your sins, he bore all my sins, he bore all the sins of the world. And when he arose from the grave, that was proof that my sin sentence, that you’re sin sentence, that everyone’s sin sentence was paid in full, and that no one need to endure the fiery torment of the lake of fire. God accepted Christ’s sacrifice, why haven’t you? If you’re name is not in that Book of Life then a summary judgement is handed down by Jesus. Guilty with an immediate sentence to follow. That sentence is to be cast, to be thrown out of the presence of God and cast in the lake of fire. All because you chose not to call on the name of Jesus. This is an appointment that we have no way of cancelling, or even postponing. The day and the time are set. Christ’s great white throne is set up, and the lights are on. Jesus is polishing his gavel, for the time is near, very near when we shall have that meeting, face to face with Jesus. We must prepare to meet our God.
In this world, and even among those that would call themselves Christian, there is a belief that we can do things that will make us acceptable before God. That just is not true. Being born into a Christian family-does that make one acceptable to meet our God? No. Our parental lineage does not make us acceptable before God. How about being born in a civilized country?(St. Patrick’s Day) Our nationality, does not make us acceptable before God. How about being baptized? No. Baptism is an outward sign that we perform that represents an inward change. Baptism does not make us acceptable before God. Being a member of church does not make us acceptable before God. Our religion does not make us acceptable before God. What about those who claim that the good things they do will get them prepared to meet their God? We just read about works in Revelation. There is nothing that we can do that will make us acceptable before God. All these examples carry benefits to the Christian, but are not what makes the Christian, they are not what makes any person prepared to meet their God. In Isaiah 64:6 it is written “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rages; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind have taken us away.” That’s some pretty strong language there. Imagine that, that time when you helped your neighbor move out of the kindness of your own heart-God views that effort on your part as filthy rags! Nothing that we do on our own can ever measure up to the good that is God. And we are expected to maintain a certain level of righteousness. A certain level of doing the right thing. So if our works are like filthy rags before God, how then do we change that how do we avoid being like these examples of people who were not prepared to meet their God?
In Genesis 3:8 we read “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Adam and Eve had just eaten the forbidden fruit, and they were ashamed at God’s approach. They tried to hide but God knew where they were. Do we try to be like Adam and Eve, and hide our sins from God? He will find them out, it is all being written down in that autobiography that we are writing.
Throughout Daniel chapter 5 we have these snippets: “Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels…taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then…They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other…The queen…came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke, saying, “…now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.” Then Daniel was brought in before the king…Then Daniel answered, and said before the king,“…But you…Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written.“…:MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.(me-nay tekail ewfarcein) This is the interpretation of each word. Mene: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; Tekel: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; Peres: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” …That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.” King Belshazzar, had not taken very good care of what was in his possession. He even meant to desecrate the gold and silver vessels from the house of the Lord. You see he gave no thought for God. He didn’t believe that God would do anything, but look what happened! That very night, Belshazzar was slain. His life ended. He didn’t realize just how short life was going to be for himself. Do we do the same thing? Do we think that God is unconcerned with the events in our lives, do we think that God is unconcerned with the things we do, with the things we say? Do we think that God is unconcerned with who or what we give our worship? Do we think that we are truly kings and queens of our own lives, subject to no authority but our own? Life is fleeting, you never know what the next moment will hold, you never know when God will require your very life from you and end your days upon this earth.
Lets look at Paul. In Acts 9:10 we read “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” Paul persecuted Christians, thinking that he knew what was best. Thinking that he could determine God’s will. Thinking that Jesus was of no importance and that Jesus was a criminal who spoke out against God. But then that day came. That day when Jesus stopped him in his tracks. That day when Paul’s blindness to Christ was given sight. Paul wasn’t prepared to meet Jesus that day. He wasn’t prepared to give an account of the things he had done. He had acted without doing God’s will. He acted on his own understanding of events. All these people we read about-all unprepared for their inevitable meeting-face to face with God. Are you prepared? Are you ready to stand before Jesus and give an account of your life? It is not difficult, it is not complicated. Do want to make those filthy rags, as white as snow? All you have to do is clean them. How do you clean them? By knowing Jesus Christ personally. Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins, for your sins, for all the sins of the world. It is written in Isaiah 53:3 “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His strips we are healed.” He was wounded for our transgressions- He was mortally hurt for our sins, for all our wrong doings. He was hurt because of our unrighteous acts, thoughts, and desires. He endured the punishment that we would have to endure so that we might have peace. And by all this suffering Jesus endured allows us to choose to be healed, to be set free from sin. To be able to enjoy fellowship with God once more.
In Romans 5:8 it is written: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God did not wait for mankind to develop the ability to restore the broken fellowship they had with him. No, God loved the world so much that he gave up his own son to come to earth, to live and be tempted as we are. So that in Jesus surrendering his life for all humanity ever, we might be restored to a place with God, so that we might have our sins permanently forgiven, so that we might have eternal life through him and with him. God knew that there would be no other man, save Jesus, who would be able to pay the entire cost of this world’s sin.
The works of Jesus are the only works that we can latch onto. His works allow for that book of life to be written. Is your name in there? There is one work which you can do, nay which you must do in order to be included in that book. To be guaranteed that you don’t have to be found guilty and endure that sentence in the fiery pit. It is written in Romans 10 verses 9-10, and 13 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” There’s two things that you have to do here-say it out loud and believe it in your heart. If you ask Jesus into your life, into your very heart and believe truly in all, not what I say, but what this Bible says you shall be saved! Nothing complicated, no forms to fill out, no waiting for approval. This word of God promises instant guaranteed approval. And again in Acts 16:31 it is written “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”
By being saved do you know what that means? We prepare to meet God by faith. In Romans 5:1 it is written “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our faith in Jesus Christ, our confession to him asking him into our lives, makes us right with God. There’s that peace we were talking about earlier, that peace with God. If we were to stand before that great white throne of Jesus and have not that peace, what then do we have with God? How about Enmity? Coming before the judgement seat as an enemy of God. Is that something you’d really want to do? But yet so many people do that. Look at what happened to Belshazzar. Really look at him. In examining the full account we read that Belshazzar accepted Daniel’s interpretation of the message-because he rewarded Daniel for it. But note, Belshazzar did not seek forgiveness for his sins, he did not repent. If he had, then perhaps his life would have been spared. But know this, he too will stand before the great white throne of judgement and his name won’t be in that book of life either. Look at 1 John 1:9 where it is written “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. This is how those dirty rags are made clean. By our repentant heart, by our desire and action to turn completely away from sin, and turn to Jesus we are made clean. If Belshazzar had sought forgiveness for his sins and meant it, through the power of Jesus Christ he would have been forgiven, instead he is now looking at being sentenced to an eternity in the lake of fire.
If sitting here you feel like it would be a good idea to be on the right side of Christ’s judgement, I will give you the opportunity to make such a confession to him later on, then you can have your name written in the book of life for all eternity.
Now for the Christians here. I began by talking about my dream of the Rapture, there was excitement and disappointment in that dream. There is quickly coming a finality to our time here on earth. Have we prepared others to stand before the judgement seat of Christ? Fathers tend to your daughters, mothers tend to your sons. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins tend to your kin and your neighbors. Are they prepared to meet Jesus? How about that lady down the street, or your best friend, your co-workers-even the ones you don’t like? How about that person sitting next to you, right there in the pew? Christ’s great commission is for us to spread his good news to all the corners of the earth. That includes the corners of the streets you live on. This dream showed me, although not entirely Biblically accurate, that like the scriptures say, the Rapture will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. I don’t want to leave anyone behind, because I didn’t take the time to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone. The time of the Rapture is coming quickly, perhaps even our own physical death will come sooner. We need to be prepared, and bring as many people with us as possible. Heaven has no maximum seating capacity, let’s over fill it with the souls we win for Christ! We too will give an account of all that we have done when we stand before Jesus. Do we want to have read our misdeeds of who we did not witness to when Jesus had opened the door for us? “Prepare to meet your God”. Amen.