Give Glory to God for Judgment
With the holiday season upon us, many families will be spending time considering all that they are thankful for. One of my favorite activities is to ask this of children. They break up the traditional responses of family, friends, and food with what is interesting or important in their lives. When surveying a particular child for this article, he told me that he was thankful for cheetahs, spy books, watermelon, and the Bible. I’ve yet to have an adult give me such a unique listing.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas close on the calendar, many people are reflecting on Christ, and rightly so. It is good to be thankful for his birth and for his ministry. It is right to be thankful for his sacrificial work on the cross for all of God’s elect. But let me ask you something. When is the last time you thanked God for his judgment?
I certainly don’t make a habit of thanking God for his punishment of sin, especially since I deserve that very judgment. But the scriptures, especially the Psalms, are full of thankful language when it comes to God pronouncing his judgment upon the world. Psalm 96 verses 11-13 encourage us to
“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.”
This psalm is a psalm of worship celebrating the holiness of God. It is a song of praise. And one of the reasons for rejoicing and giving thanks to God is that he will judge the world in righteousness. God’s judgment is good. When God brings judgment, he is holding us up to his standard. He is saying that sin has a cost and the cost must be paid.
The psalm also tells us that creation itself celebrates with God for this judgment. The trees sing for joy as the earth is judged. The reason for this is that creation knows judgment is part of God restoring the world. Romans 8:19-22 speaks of creation groaning with expectation of restoration. Creation understands that the world is broken by sin. When God carries out judgment, it is a sign of that brokenness being made right.
While I do not believe we have to celebrate when someone faces God’s judgment for their sin, I do think it is appropriate for us to be thankful that God does take sin seriously. I do think we should be thankful when God brings us and the world in alignment with himself. And I believe that if creation can celebrate and look forward to the ultimate restoration in the second coming of Christ, we should all the more be thankful when God works toward this end.
Because ultimately we can be thankful for God’s judgment because Christ faced it. Christ was willing to die on the cross for God’s children. He took their judgment upon himself. He faced what they deserved so that they might receive his righteousness. If you repent and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, you too can celebrate that judgment has been fulfilled.
So I want to challenge us all this holiday season. As you consider all that you are thankful for, consider the words of Psalm 96. Thank God for his righteous judgment and that this judgment has been fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Pastor Aaron Suber