Have you ever felt afraid because you knew a punishment was coming?
All throughout the Old Testament times the Israelites, God’s chosen people, looked forward to the day when God would come down to earth, judge all the bad sinners, and put his king in charge of everything. They called it the Day of the Lord. Listen to how the prophet Joel describes the Day of the Lord here:
Joel 2:1. Blow a trumpet in Zion;
sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,
2 a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Joel 3:14-16. 14 the day of the Lord is near
in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
16 The Lord roars from Zion,
and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth quake.
But the Lord is a refuge to his people,
a stronghold to the people of Israel.
The Day of the Lord was a scary thought. How does Joel describe it? What scary things do you hear?
Before Jesus came God’s people thought that on the Day of the Lord we will be judged righteously by God for the good and bad things we did while we were alive on earth. If your good deeds added up to more than your bad deeds, then God would let you into heaven with him. But if your bad deeds were more than your good deeds, then you would be separated from God forever. And, of course, God’s judgment will always be good and fair.
But when Jesus came he showed us that no one can survive the Day of the Lord. Jesus showed us that nobody’s good can outweigh their bad, and that we all deserve the same thing – to be separated from God.
How did Jesus show us this? At the cross. Jesus’ death on the cross for everyone proves that everyone is bad and deserves death. But Jesus’ cross also proves that God loves everyone enough to take our judgment and punishment in our place.
And now, like the prophet Joel says, we can all run to the Lord Jesus as our “refuge,” our fort (Joel 2:16). We can run to Jesus because he is our savior now instead of our judge. Why? Because he went through the scary Day of the Lord and survived God’s “darkness and gloom” for us. He died and rose again from the grave so that we too can live with him forever if we choose to trust in him for the forgiveness and grace of God.
Because of Jesus we don’t have to be afraid of the Day of the Lord and God’s judgment.
With Jesus we can always run to him as our fort of safety.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Play a game of Tag together. Have a home base where everyone is safe from being tagged. Talk about how Jesus is our “home base.” With him we will never be “tagged out” for our sin.
You are my fortress. With you I am always safe and will never be punished for my sin. Thank you for being punished in my place.
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