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Behold! The Day of the Lord

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 8, 2023 12:01 am

Behold! The Day of the Lord

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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May 8, 2023 12:01 am

Christians look to the day of the Lord with great anticipation. But Christ's return will bring unspeakable horror to those whose faith is only a hypocritical show. Today, R.C. Sproul calls us to heed a sober warning from the book of Amos.

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R.C. Sproul

Hi, this is Nathan W Bingham, host of Renewing Your Mind.

If you've been listening this past week, you've heard R.C. Sproul's unique ability to clearly and winsomely communicate the truth of the Bible, even when the topic is challenging, even hard. Well, before today's hard saying, I wanted to take a brief moment to remind you of another podcast, Ultimately with R.C. Sproul, where several times each week we feature brief snippets from Dr. Sproul's lifetime of teaching to help you set your mind on what matters most, on what matters ultimately. In today's episode, Dr. Sproul explains the difference between simply reading and diligently studying the Scriptures. So to help you better know what you believe and why you believe it, search for Ultimately with R.C. Sproul wherever you listen to podcasts.

New episodes are available every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Now on to today's hard saying. The greatest pleasure we can ever hope to enjoy is to experience the radiance of the countenance of Christ, the beholding of the manifestation of His unveiled glory. This is the warning that Amos gives. You're looking for the day of the Lord, expecting a day of light. But I say to you, to those who are impenitent, that the day of the Lord will be a day of darkness.

And then he repeats that. He says, the day of the Lord will be a darkness that is a very great darkness with no light in it. The Bible is filled with warnings concerning a future day of judgment. Some say that Jesus spoke more about judgment and hell than he did heaven. We find one such warning in the prophet Amos, but his warning is not to Egypt. It's to Israel. It's not to the pagan nations.

It was to the religious. Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and thank you for joining us today for Renewing Your Mind. Today, we're continuing R.C. Sproul's hard saying series. Now, many of these sayings have been hard for us to understand, but today we come to one that's hard for us to hear, a warning from the prophet Amos to the unrepentant among the people of God. Let's hear from R.C. Sproul as he helps us understand this sober and very serious warning that we shouldn't simply ignore.

Here's Dr. Sproul. We are a people who have been reared not only on television, but still with the lingering influence of the folklore of Western civilization that includes a significant portion of fairy tales. Fairy tales are part of our children's heritage, and most of the fairy tales that we read or see in animated movies are upbeat, and they deliver a message of hope.

They indicate the victory of good over evil. But always there seems to be the beautiful princess who's impoverished or suffering in some way, like Cinderella confined to the soot and the ashes of the hearth, who serendipitously has the opportunity through the good intervention of the fairy godmother to go to the ball and to meet the prince and live happily ever after with him. I think now of a song in the film version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, where Snow White is wistful and yearning and dreaming in her fanciful imagination of her future happiness.

And what does she sing? Some day my prince will come. She looked to the future for a day that would be her day of redemption, that would be her day of gladness, would be the day when all of her problems would be over. Have you ever done that? Have you ever looked forward to a particular date in human history, apart from the return of Christ, but just in your own chronology, looking forward?

Well, when that happens, then all of my aspirations will be fulfilled. My wife, whom I've been married for 35 years, we began to go together in the eighth grade. That was the third time. We'd gone together twice before that and broke up, but we got serious when we were in the eighth grade, and we went steady, as it were, for eight years. Six of those eight years we were separated by attending different schools. And when we were apart, I used to write her a letter every single day, and she wrote me a letter every single day. And at the bottom of every letter I wrote to her, I wrote a P.S., I am waiting for you and our day.

In fact, I said it so often I finally had a stationery made up where I had it printed at the bottom to save me the effort because I just ended every letter with that same P.S., I am waiting for you and our day. And both of us used to keep on going. Both of us used to keep the days on our tablets at school, 947 more days because we set the date of our marriage years before we actually were married, and we would cross them off a day at a time. And I remember when we finally got under 100 days and then down to single digits, it was fantastic because all of our hopes, all of our aspirations were poured into that date, to that day in the future. And now that day has passed, and it's the occasion for annual celebration and remembrance. Well, this is common to human beings, and there is a concept in the Old Testament that's very important to the theology and to the religion and the life of the people of Israel. And that concept is called the day of the Lord, the day of the Lord. And if you trace it through the Old Testament, you will see that early on in the life of the Jewish people, the future promise of the day of the Lord is a time of anticipated joy and pleasure and redemption. It would be the it would be the day of God's visitation, the time when God would come and vindicate His people from all of the persecution and suffering that they had received from wicked people and from wicked nations.

It would be a time of unspeakable joy and celebration when the majesty of God would become apparent, God Himself would appear in blazing glory and light, and all of the nation would rejoice. But as the history of Israel unfolds and the people grow more and more wicked, and they compromise the covenant more and more and move further and further away from the law of God, a storm cloud begins to develop and arise on the horizon, begins to cast a shadow over this future promise of the day of the Lord. And by the time we get to the eighth-century prophets, where God's wrath now is going to be poured out in judgment, first against the northern kingdom of Israel in 722, and then later on in the next century and then later on in the next century to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586, the prophecies of the future become darker and darker.

And we find one such prophecy, which is a hard saying, in the words of the prophet Amos. If we look at chapter 5 of the book of Amos, beginning at verse 16, we read these words, Therefore the Lord God of hosts, the Lord says this, There shall be wailing in all streets, there shall be wailing in all streets. And they shall say in all the highways, Alas, alas, they shall call the farmer to mourning, and skillful lamenters to wailing. In all vineyards there shall be wailing, for I will pass through you, says the Lord.

Boy, is that scary. This is not the promise of the Passover, but now God is announcing that the angel of vengeance, His angel of wrath, is going to come now not to Egypt, but to Israel, not to pass over the land, but to pass through it. When that happens, there will be weeping and wailing in the streets, and the people crying out, Alas, alas. Now hear the next words of the prophet, Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord.

For what good is the day of the Lord to you? It will be darkness and not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion and a bear met him, or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the Lord darkness and not light?

Is it not very dark with no brightness in it? Ah, what a dreadful statement. Think back for a moment to Snow White, standing at her windowsill, singing into the night a dream is a wish your heart makes, dreaming of the Prince that will come, putting all of her hopes in this future meeting of her hero, and imagine that she discovers that the Prince who comes is the Prince of darkness.

The Prince of evil, the wicked Prince who takes her away. This is the kind of message that God is saying to His people, you who long for the day of the Lord, you who are so caught up in the rapture of eschatological anticipation and hope. You can't wait today for the return of Jesus. You can't wait for the coming consummation of His kingdom.

You read every forecast of His return. You watch every television program that announces the coming of Christ. You circle every passage in the New Testament that promises His glorious return on clouds of glory, where He will bring a new heaven and a new earth and causes you to rejoice in anticipation. The day of the Lord. The day of the Lord.

But Amos is speaking to a generation who desire the day of the Lord, but who have become so estranged from God that the day of the Lord was not a good day for them. As Christians, we look forward to the return of Jesus with great anticipation, the day when our Prince will come and will set aright all of those things which are unjust and out of kilter in this world. We long for that day as a time of vindication, a time of healing for the nations, a time of the final realization of the fullness of our salvation. But what if our faith is a hypocritical faith?

What if it's not real? What will happen to us on that day? You see, when the New Testament speaks of the return of Christ, it speaks of it in two different dimensions. On the one hand, it is the day of final salvation for the people of God. On the other hand, it will be the day of final judgment where God's long suffering and patience with righteousness will come to an end.

And so it will be a two-edged sword, won't it? For those who are saved, it will be the time of exquisite delight. For those who are not, it will be the ultimate time of judgment and doom. What will it be for you? Will the time of Christ's appearing be a time when you will be enraptured with joy and blessedness to see the coming and manifestation of your Lord and of your Savior? Or will this be a moment of unspeakable horror when the Judge and calls you into account? The day of the return of Christ will be a day of dayless celebration for some and for calamity for others who will be crying and wailing in the streets, crying for the hills to cover them and for the mountains to fall upon them, and the last muffled murmurs of their cries will be, alas!

Alas! This is the warning that Amos gives. You're looking for the day of the Lord, expecting a day of light. But I say to you, to those who are impenitent, that the day of the Lord will be a day of darkness.

And then he repeats that. He says the day of the Lord will be a darkness that is a very great darkness with no light in it. The greatest pleasure we can ever hope to enjoy is to experience the radiance of the countenance of Christ, the beholding of the manifestation of His unveiled glory. And the Scriptures uniformly describe the majestic radiance of Christ in terms of the metaphor of light. We go to the book of Revelation, and we read of the new heaven and the new earth that comes down out of heaven, and we note something extraordinary there, that in the new heaven there is no sun. There are no artificial means of illumination because they're totally unnecessary, because the light that is generated by the glory of God and by His Son will fill the holy city with light.

But outside, we are told, outside the new Jerusalem will be a place of utter darkness, utter darkness, where no light will shine, where the glory of God will not pierce and will not penetrate, and the radiance of the countenance of Christ will be shut out into this outer darkness, and in the outer darkness there will be, as the Scriptures say, nothing but weeping and gnashing of teeth. You may not believe that. You may think that that's not true.

You better hope that that's not true. But that message is on every page of sacred Scripture. That warning, that alert is there again and again and again. Do you want a future of utter abysmal darkness? Beloved, you were made for fellowship and communion with God. You were created with a capacity to experience unspeakable joy in His presence, to be shut out of that presence, to be in a place where there is no light and only darkness is the worst possible thing that could ever befall you. And so, from the lips of Amos, we hear this dreadful announcement that the day of the Lord, for some, will be a day of darkness with no light in it. But again, remember that this message is not pronounced out in the streets to pagans.

It is pronounced to people who are professing religion. And the very next phrase indicates it, where the prophecy goes on in the name of God saying, I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savour your sacred assemblies, and though you offer me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fat and peace offerings. Take away from me the noise of your songs. I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments, but let justice or righteousness run down like water, like a mighty rolling stream. See, He's talking to religious people.

He's talking to religious people. I despise your feasts. I hate your solemn assemblies. The sacrifices that you put on the altar have become a stench in my nostrils. Don't come into my presence with a show of religion while there's no righteousness in the land.

You come with your sacrifices. I won't accept them. You say your prayers. I won't hear them. You sing your hymns.

I won't listen to them, because the sound of your music has become sour in my ears. This should make us tremble, because, again, this message is addressed to the religious community, to people who are actively engaged in the experience of worship, of singing, of praying, of celebrating feast days, sacraments, and the like. But God says the church is like a wadi in Israel, and the wadi, w-a-d-i, are those huge, dry riverbeds. There are only two rainy seasons during the year. Most of the year, Israel is a desert, and those riverbeds are empty, not a drop of water to be found. But when the rains come, there is no place to contain the water, so all of the water runs off the desert floor into these wadis, these empty, big ditches, and then it becomes a raging torrent through the desert. And He said, that's what I want to see happen in my church. I want to see righteousness come rushing through the church and through the people of God like the flowing rivers in the empty wadis. But at that moment, God had looked at His people and found nothing but empty cisterns and empty riverbeds.

They were empty of righteousness. And for that reason, these people professed faith, had no fruit, and for people like that, the day of the Lord will be a day of darkness, no light in it. There is a blessing that God announces to those who genuinely love the Lord's appearing. And to be sure, the promise of the future day of the Lord, for which we are still waiting, is a promise of blessedness. We call the coming of Christ the blessed hope of the church, and indeed it is the blessed hope of the church, and indeed it is your blessed hope if indeed you belong to Christ.

But I'm speaking now to people who are church members or churchgoers, who participate in the singing and in the prayers and in the sacraments and all the accouterments of worship. Is it real? Is your faith sincere? Does it inform your life? Is the fruit of righteousness flowing out of you?

If it is, then for you the day of the Lord is a day of light with no darkness in it. What we heard today was a message from R.C. Sproul's Hard Sayings series. This series looks at hard sayings of Jesus, the apostles and prophets, and other verses throughout the Bible. In fact, he tackles 27 hard sayings in this series. When you give your gift today, not only will you receive digital access to that complete series, but we'll give you a new resource from Dr. Sproul, Hard Sayings, Understanding the Difficult Passages of Scripture. This new hardcover resource from Dr. Sproul was based on this teaching series, and we'll make it available to you when you give your gift today. So visit renewingyourmind.org or by calling us at 800 435 4343. Since God is good, why is there evil in the world?

Did God create evil and calamity? Join us tomorrow as R.C. Sproul considers another hard saying here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-08 02:27:22 / 2023-05-08 02:35:12 / 8

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