Day of Reckoning-Day of Reconciliation
This last week I read that a man from California may get up to 35 years in prison for trying to join ISIS. The day the police picked him up was a life-changer for him. His freedom was gone. He is 25 and in 35 years he will be 60 years old. He might get out earlier than that for good behavior, but he will miss his 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s if he stays the whole time.
It’s amazing how decisions we make can come back to ruin our lives and our futures. Living in a cell beside big bubba for 35 years doesn’t sound like what he might have expected when he started this quest.
According to the judge, he has shown no remorse….yet.
The day that Cain killed Abel, his life changed. He lost a brother and, because of his actions, was driven out from his mother and father. His life was ruined because he allowed his resentment to his brother to grow until that fateful day when he did the deed.
Chapter 1 of Jeremiah pictures Jerusalem in ruins. The “she” of chapter 1 is Jerusalem. Israel had broken God’s laws for 900 years. They faced their day of reckoning.
We all have a day when our sin will find us out. There may be some here who whose lives would be ruined if their husband or wife saw what was happening on their computer either in emails or in sites visited. There may be some here who have lied about their spending or have not been ethical in their business practices. Discovery would mean ruin. And ruin would come at a great price.
For those who have already experienced ruin and for those heading in that direction, you need a new life. Jesus provides a new life for you. Trust him and follow him.
Chapter 2 focuses on “he.” When people are at the bottom, they often think of God. For many, their thoughts or ideas of God are not positive.
They will say, “God must be punishing me.” “God is out to get me.” “I knew sometime I would cross the line and God would take action.”
Inwardly they feel condemned. They know what they did, they see the ruin it caused, and their sin is right in front of their eyes. As David said, “My sin is always before me…” When you go to sleep, (if you can sleep), you think about your sin. When you wake up, you think about what you did to cause the ruin. You meet people and you wonder if all they think about is how bad you have been. You condemn yourself and you feel condemned by God.
This is where Jeremiah is in Chapter 2. In Chapter 1 he saw the ruin. In chapter 2 he comes to God on that day of reckoning.
This is where life leads many people, from ruin to reckoning.
We often talk about future judgment. We all will have to answer to God some day for what we did with two things. First, we will have to answer to God for how we treated his Son, Jesus. Did we receive him, trust him and follow him? Or did we reject him, ignore him and walk away from him?
The second question we will have to answer is what we did with the life God gave us. Everyone will have to answer for the deeds they did in the body, whether good or bad.
For those who have faced the ruin connected to bad choices, the day of reckoning has already come. For some it might have been jail, for others, hospitalization, for others, the end of a marriage, for others, broken relationships, and the list goes on.
You join with Jeremiah as he faces this day of reckoning by focusing on the one behind this, the “he”, who is God.
Jeremiah is certain that God is behind the ruin of Jerusalem.
In all of this, Jeremiah sees the Lord behind the ruin. The reason is that in Deuteronomy 28, God had said that if you follow the Lord, good things will happen, if you don’t then bad things will happen.
It is human nature to scoff at these warnings. We believe that we can handle anything that may come our way. We minimize the impact and act tough when people tell us of the bad things in the future. “I’ll survive,” we say.
But when the day of reckoning comes, we can be blown away. Even though what is happening is what we know would happen, when reality sets in, we are overwhelmed.
And so even though we were warned, even though we sinned, we still question God when the reality of our ruin comes in. We didn’t realize what it would do to us. We didn’t realize the effect our actions would have on others. When we realize it, we often turn to God and question him.
We made the choice. We were warned. But when the day of reckoning hit us, it seemed unfair.
It’s like a couple of people who are dating. One says to the other after a rocky time, “I need some space.” The other person says, “Ok, and is seen the next day is holding hands with another person.” “Stop, I didn’t mean that much space!”
The issue of justice is core to understanding God’s role in all of this.
What Jeremiah questions is God’s justice. “God, we were bad, but this bad? You are going overboard. The women and children are suffering. This shouldn’t be!” In other words, God is accused of being unjust.
This begs the question, who knows more? Did you know all the ramifications and implications of the bad choices you would make? No. You had no idea. You thought that you would get away with it or it wouldn’t be this bad. So you went ahead and ignored the warnings.
Did God know all the ramifications and implications of the bad choices you would make? Yes! So what did he do? He warned you before hand not to do it. He might have used your mother, father, sister, brother, friend, pastor, Gideon Bible, TV preacher, or even a secular source that laid out what happens when you do what you did.
You might have heard others who had already faced their day of reckoning. They may have lost a spouse through immorality, damaged their body or been incarcerated. They tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen. Yet, now you blame God.
God is behind our day of reckoning. This comes out in two ways in the Bible.
First, the scripture that tells us that God has specific warnings and blessing that he has spelled out for us.One of the most famous warnings is given in
Those who do not believe will perish. Fair? God thinks so. Whether or not you agree with God, he has the ability, power and right to do what he choses. Israel thought that they were in control and shook their fist at God. God had the last word.
The second way that we know that God is behind the day of reckoning is that God has set certain principles in place.
In other words, the saying, “What goes around, comes around” is true. We cannot mistreat others and expect that they will embrace us. Most people are not like that. We break trust and people don’t trust us. We lie and others will not believe us. We steal and others will not share with us.
As people made in God’s image, we often treat others as they treat us. This is operating under the principle of justice. As God is just, we are hard-wired to be just.
We don’t do justice as well as God. This is why gangs don’t shoot back at the one who shoot at them, they will go after anyone from the gang or anyone associated with the gang. This is why in history, rulers not only killed the person they jettisoned out of office, but their families, servants, animals and friends. This is why when Babylon comes in they not only hurt the wicked, but the women, children and innocents are also affected. The principle of justice is God given in our hearts. The execution of justice by human beings is not so just.
God knew that when he permitted Babylon to come and take over Jerusalem, it would be a messy justice. Israel had been warned, but they ignored the warning.
And the day of reckoning had come. The city was in ruins. It was a depressing day.
If God is behind the justice that you have received, either specifically or because of the justice principle we have outlined, what hope is there for you?
When you realized that your life was ruined, you needed a new life. When you realize God’s anger at your choices and his hand working behind the scenes to bring this day of reckoning, what do you need?
You need to a day of reconciliation.
If God’s anger is evidenced by your own day of reckoning, you need to get right with God. If you continue the way you are going, the hand of God on your life will be even greater. If somehow you can be reconciled to God and restore that relationship, God will be in a position to help you with your future.
This is the good news I have for you today. Christ died for the ungodly. He died for those who have turned their back on him, ignored him, and broken his commandments. Christ died for the ungodly.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God has brought you to the day of reckoning in order to bring you to the day of reconciliation. You haven’t needed God before. You were self-satisfied and thought you could get away with all you did. You didn’t want God’s warnings, his Word, or the witness of others who had walked ahead of you and came back to warn you.
Though you didn’t feel like you needed God, God wanted you. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for sinners. He sent Jesus to die for the ungodly.
Notice the words “justified”! That is the same idea as justice. Someone had to pay for what you did. Jesus, the innocent one, took your punishment on himself so that you would not have to face God in judgment, but could be reconciled to him. Jesus saves us from the wrath of God.
If you need to be reconciled to God, you can be. You can be reconciled to God by turning away from your sin and trusting Jesus.
Lamentations does not give this offer. Jesus does. The hopelessness of their situation was real. In the midst of your hopeless situation, God comes and offers you forgiveness through Jesus as well as a new life.
Today can be your day of reconciliation. Jesus wants you to come as you are. Admit that you have disobeyed God. Admit that you are in the wrong. Come to Jesus and receive the forgiveness of sin that allows you to be reconciled to God.
Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day that your life can begin anew with God.