When I was a kid, there was a Japanese superhero show I used to always watch called Kikaida. If you think he looks cheesy, you should’ve seen the monsters and special effects. (I’m sure you can find this on youtube somewhere).
Anyway, in the climax of each show, Kikaida would battle the villain and finish it with a special super blow that would destroy the monster. In the English translation, Kikaida always shouted, “The end!” as he did so.
That’s basically what God tells the Israelites in this passage. He said,
The end has come! The end has come! It has roused itself against you. It has come! Doom has come upon you – you who dwell in the land. The time has come, the day is near; there is panic, not joy, upon the mountains. I am about to pour out my wrath on you and spend my anger against you; I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. (6-8)
In other words, “This is the end for you. You’ve rebelled against me time and again. Now the day of judgment has come and Babylon will come and wipe you out.”
As we look at this passage, I think we see several things about God’s judgment.
First, we will be judged for the evil that we have done. We may think that we have gotten away with our sin, because God hasn’t done anything yet. But when the day of judgment comes, all that we have done will be put on the table.
Second, God’s love does not prevent him from passing judgment. He told the Israelites,
I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will repay you in accordance with your conduct and the detestable practices among you.（4）
So many people say, “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” But while God is a God of love, he is also a God of justice. And because God is pure, he must punish sin. More than that, he cannot stand in the presence of sin. All who are stained from sin will be banished from his presence. Essentially, that’s what hell is. It’s a life apart from God. And when you’re apart from God, ultimately there is only hopelessness and despair. God doesn’t want that for us, but when we choose to live a life of sin, that’s all that’s left for us.
Third, nothing that we accumulate here on earth can spare us from judgment. God said of the Israelites,
They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the Lord’s wrath. (19)
You can accumulate money. You can accumulate land. You can accumulate things. But all of them will mean nothing when the day of judgment comes. You cannot buy off God’s judgment.
Finally, each will be judged by what they know, not by what they don’t. God told them,
I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. (27)
God says here, that the standards that the people themselves set up will condemn them. Nobody is completely lawless. While laws may get corrupted over time, there is still some semblance of the moral code that God set in motion at the beginning of time. And corrupted though people’s laws or sense of morals may be, deep down, they still have an idea of what God has said is right. Yet people don’t even live up to their corrupted version of God’s code. Men will be condemned by the code that they know. And God says, “You are without excuse, because your own code will condemn you.”
Is there no hope then? Is there only judgment waiting for us all? Not at all. Jesus came to this earth and died on a cross to take the punishment for our sin. And now the Bible says that if we will put our trust in him, his blood will purify us from all sin. (1 John 1:7).
So let us turn from our sin and turn to Jesus. With him, there is hope. Without him, there is no hope at all.