“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”
I love these two verses! I’m not sure why, but I really like the idea of the trees singing. I usually think of birds – maybe frogs – but rarely do I think of trees. Why not? They are of God’s creation. Besides, they are one of the few things that have outstretched arms to heaven. For most of us, we have to be mightily stirred before we’ll raise our hands in praise to Jesus (and some never have), yet the trees do it all the time. They are constantly reaching up.
Secular thinking would be that this is simply so because trees compete for sunlight, a necessary ingredient for their food. Yes, that is true, but the bible also tells me that the trees sing. I like that idea.
But there is more to this story. The trees aren’t singing just because they can. This passage continues on:
“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.
What do you think about this? Jesus is coming back. We’re happy about that, right? Well, we should be. After all, he is coming back to gather his flock. But he also has another agenda – to judge the earth. What about that? Are we looking forward to that?
Let’s think about this. The field will exult, and the trees of the forest will sing for joy because of it. But won’t this be an awful day? The Day of the Lord.
Zephaniah 1:14-16 The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements.
That doesn’t sound like such a nice day, a day that the trees will sing, does it? It depends on your point of view with regard to sin. It seems to me that we all take a very light view of sin with little regard to the true extent of rebellion of mankind towards its Creator.
Let’s make up an example. Suppose someone walked on to your property every day, dug holes in your yard, threw garbage on your deck, and harassed your children as they went to school. In fact, at times they got your own kids to do that same! You try to reason with them so that they might see the error of their ways, but they won’t listen. In fact, they yell and curse you and tell everyone what a rotten person YOU are! You call the police, but that doesn’t stop anything. They keep coming, day after day. Sooner or later, you’re going to look forward to justice. First, you might consider revenge, but that is playing right into their hand. No, justice must be delivered from God.
Folks, much worse than this is going on over the entire face of the earth. It always has, since the fall, and it always will, until that great and awesome day of the Lord comes (Joel 2:31). Peter quotes a lengthy passage of Joel in his sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2).
Can we agree that it will be a good day when sin is finally eradicated? When Satan and Death and Hades and all that oppose God are finally and forever thrown into the lake of fire – never again to torment God’s children or shake their fist at our Lord? Won’t that be a day to celebrate? Indeed, it will.
Yet, there is part of me that doesn’t want this day to come. Honestly, I don’t want ones I love to face this day. My tendency is to think they don’t deserve the wrath of God. After all, they are no different than me, right? Well, that is me forgetting just how sinful I used to be. Yes, I still sin, but something now is different. I used to be like the rest of the world, but now I’m not. I’m not the same man I used to be.
Here’s the big disconnect – I want to impute my “righteousness” towards my salvation. When I do that, I think that others are “good enough” to enter heaven. This is a huge error. There was nothing “good” about me that caught God’s attention. In fact, my attitudes and behaviors earned me a spot in the lake of fire. It is by His mercy, alone, that I have been declared, deemed, and granted the status of God’s child.
Yes, the trees and all of creation will rejoice when the Lord comes to judge. I, too, should eagerly await that day. I should also thank God each and every day that he had mercy on me, a sinner. His judgement is reasonable. His mercy is unexplainable.
Father, thank you for your mercy. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers