A Tale of Two Cities
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, March 9, 2003
Copyright © 2003, P. G. Mathew
We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts. Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith. You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD for ever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.
The book of Isaiah sees the whole plan of redemption in a panoramic way. In chapters 24-27 we find a tale of two cities: the city of God and the city of man. The city of man is that city or world system organized without God. It exists in direct opposition to God and his holy city. This tale of two cities is also a tale of two peoples-the people of God and the people of this world. Metaphorically, it is the story of the city of Zion and all other cities or kingdoms, represented by Moab, Babel, or Babylon.
The city of man cannot stand against God: "You have made the city a heap of rubble, the fortified town a ruin, the foreigners' stronghold a city no more; it will never be rebuilt" (25:2). In Isaiah 25:10-12 we read concerning the mountain of God, Mount Zion, and Moab, which represents the city of man: "The hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain; but Moab will be trampled under him as straw is trampled down in the manure. They will spread out their hands in it, as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim. God will bring down their pride despite the cleverness of their hands. He will bring down your high fortified walls and lay them low; he will bring them down to the ground, to the very dust." And in Isaiah 27:10 we read concerning the city of man, "The fortified city stands desolate, an abandoned settlement forsaken like the desert. . . ."
The city of man will be destroyed and its pride brought down: "He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust" (26:1).
The City of God
In contrast to the city of man, the city of God is a strong city: "In that day, this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts" (26:1). The people of God, who belong to this city of salvation, enter it through faith in Jesus Christ. He alone is the gate to this city, as he himself said in John 10:7, 9: "I am the gate for the sheep. . . . whoever enters through me will be saved." It is the city Abraham looked forward to and entered by faith.
In Hebrews 12 we see this city and every person who trusts in Jesus Christ entering into it. In verse 22 the writer begins, "But you have come to Mount Zion. . . ." Here we must note that this has nothing to do with literal Mount Zion, but refers to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. So in verses 22-24 we read,
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
This city of God is the city that the apostle John saw in his vision. In Revelation 21 we read, "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband" (v. 2). "And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal" (v. 10). "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life" (v. 27).
A Singing City
Let us, then, look at the city of God as it is described in Isaiah 26. The first thing we notice is that it is singing city: "In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah" (v. 1).
The people of God are rejoicing because they dwell in an impregnable city, totally secure from all their enemies. They are singing about their salvation, just as Moses and the Israelites sang about their redemption from Egypt: "I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation" (Exodus 15:1-2).
A City of Divine Provision
Second, this city is of divine provision. Unlike Babel, the city of God is not built by people. Its architect and builder is God; it is based on God's plan and initiative alone. It is the kingdom of God, the invisible church, the people of God, who are chosen, called, justified, and glorified by him. It is the bride of Christ.
A Strong City
In verse 1 we read, "We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts." Its foundation is the Rock of Ages and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. There the people of God enjoy eternal security. Neither death nor life nor anything else in all creation can destroy its walls and terrify its people.
There is another description of the strength of this city found in Isaiah 60:17-19:
I will make peace your governor and righteousness your ruler. No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin nor destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise. The sun will no more be your light by day nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light and your God will be your glory.
Additionally, in Zechariah 2:5 we read, "'And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,' declares the Lord, 'and I will be its glory within.'" The city of God is a strong city.
The Gates of the City
Isaiah 26:2 tells us, "Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith." No one can enter unless the gates are opened to him. Yes, you can knock at the gate and say, "Lord, Lord, open it for us! Haven't we prophesied and performed miracles and cast out demons in your name?" But the Lord will say to you, "Depart from me, you workers of iniquity!"
No one will be admitted unless he is washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. Jesus Christ is the gate of this city; thus, without recognizing his person and his work, we cannot come into this strong city of God. In Romans 10:9 we read, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Only those who are born of God will see and enter the kingdom of God.
In Revelation 22:14-15 we read,
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the adulterers, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
How does God open the gates of the city? Through the proclamation of the gospel. As the gospel is declared, elect sinners will be convicted of their sins and will cry out, "What must I do to be saved?" But if you are listening to the gospel, yet are trusting in your own cleverness and power rather than in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, you shall not be admitted to the eternal kingdom of God. I plead with you, whether you are old or young, to repent of your sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone that you may enter into this strong city.
This is a serious issue we must all consider because we all must die. Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone can enter the city of God and be safe. "Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith." What about you? Are you outside or inside the city of God? Are you a citizen of the city of God, or a citizen of the city of man? Can you say with the apostle Paul, "Our citizenship is in heaven"? Are you seated with Christ in the heavenly places? Have you set your affections on things above? Have you fixed your eyes on Jesus Christ alone, the author and finisher of your faith?
Psalm 24:3-5 tells us, "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior." No one can enter into this city unless he is justified freely by God's grace.
Peace, Perfect Peace
The fifth point we notice about this city is that its citizens experience perfect peace: "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you" (Isaiah 26:3). When Jewish people greet each other, they often say, "Shalom aleichem," or "Peace be unto you."
Here we are told who will have peace: It is the one "whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Every citizen of the city of God experiences shalom, shalom, or "great peace." The word "peace" is repeated to express its amplitude. A believer in Jesus Christ will experience total peace, peace like a flowing river.
Why will such a person not be disturbed? Because the cause for disturbance was removed. When God forgives our sins, they are totally blotted out and we are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ; thus, we have peace.
In Psalm 112 we find another description of the peace the citizen of the city of God experiences.
Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes (vv. 6-8).
The same idea is found in Jeremiah 17:7-8:
But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
The Basis for Perfect Peace
What is the basis of this abounding and everlasting peace experienced by the citizens of the city of God? The answer is found in Isaiah 53:5, where we read concerning the Messiah, "[T]he punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." Jesus Christ suffered the wrath of God that was due us so that we may experience this peace that is like a river. This is why we glory in the cross of Jesus Christ.
In Romans 5:1 the apostle Paul writes, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." And in Philippians 4:6-7 we find this great proclamation of the peace God gives us. Paul begins, "Do not be anxious about anything. . . ." Anything! If you are a citizen of the city of this world, you will be anxious about everything. In fact, you have no reason to be confident about anything. But Paul writes, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." You can experience peace when everything else is crumbling all around you.
Fixing Our Minds on God
Have you experienced this peace? It is the inheritance of everyone whose mind is stayed on the Lord. Is your mind stayed on the Lord, or is it stayed on your money, your position, or your possessions? Maybe your mind is stayed on your children, whom you are hoping will take care of you in your old age. No matter; if your mind is not stayed on the Lord, the Rock of Ages, as the text tells us, you cannot experience this peace.
Isaiah 26:4 tells us, "Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal." Here the word "Lord" is repeated for emphasis. Are you trusting in this Lord, who is likened to a Rock which is strong to bear you up, to shade you, to shelter you, and to provide for you? True peace is the inheritance of everyone whose mind is stayed on the Lord.
In Romans 8:6 Paul says, "The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." Have you learned to fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith? He is the Prince of Peace who accomplished peace for us on the cross.
Remember the man of Psalm 112? Verse 7 tells us, "He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear." Why is this man so unafraid? Because his heart is fixed unchangingly on God.
Peter is the only person, outside of Jesus Christ, in the history of the world who ever walked on water. He did so because Jesus invited him to come to him. But when Peter looked at the waves, he began to sink. This happens to us as well. As long as we fix our eyes on God, we are fine. But whenever we look at anything other than the word of God, we will sink. A doubleminded man enjoys no peace at all. Unstable in all his ways, he fears, stumbles, and falls.
Jesus Christ spoke about such doublemindedness when he said that we cannot serve two masters. How many people have tried to prove Jesus Christ wrong! But we cannot serve both God and the world. The citizens of the city of God must worship and serve God only.
Because the citizen of the city of God trusts in the Lord, he will exhort those around him to do so also. In Isaiah 26:4 the prophet exhorts us, "Trust in the Lord forever." Having experienced the peace of God, he now encourages us to trust in God.
When you know truth and are convinced of it, you will evangelize others. Without shame and with confidence you will proclaim to the citizens of the city of man, "You need to trust in the Lord forever, not in man, for the Lord alone is the rock eternal."
Fathers and mothers, I pray that you will declare these things to your children. Tell them, "Bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable in this age and in the age to come. Only one thing is needful, and I urge you to seek that one thing." Open the gates wide for them by declaring the gospel. Tell them as Isaiah told us, "Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal."
Experiencing God's Peace
When a citizen of the city of God looks back and sees all his sins blotted out, that amazing sight will promote great peace in his soul. As he looks around him in this world, he will be able to say, "All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose." When he looks beyond this world, he knows that he will be glorified. PGM As a citizen of the city of God, his destiny is certain. When he looks within, he sees the peace of God that passes all human understanding. When he looks upward, he sees Christ Jesus, seated on the right hand of God the Father. He is in control of all things; his hand holds us and will never let us go.
There is a hymn by Edward Bickersteth which speaks of this peace of God:
Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.
Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus' bosom nothing but calm is found.
Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus' keeping we are safe and they.
Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and he is on the throne.
Peace, perfect peace, death shad'wing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its pow'rs.
It is enough: earth's struggles soon shall cease,
and Jesus call us to heav'n's perfect peace.
Do You Have Peace?
There is no peace for a citizen of the city of man. If you are such a person, you may have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, but in your arrogance, you laughed at it. But some day you must die. It is already decreed. At that time your money, your mother, your spouse, and your children will fail you, and you will die.
But death is not the end for us. You must face Him, the eternal God who gave you life. There was only one purpose for your life: to believe in Jesus Christ and be saved. But you have not humbled before him and acknowledged your sin. You have not repented of your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ.
You are now able to think and hear the gospel. Humble yourself and say, "God, have mercy upon me a sinner!" and trust in Jesus Christ. Tell him, "Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God; that you are God who took upon human nature to die in my place. Have mercy upon me and forgive my sins." The thief on the cross said, "Remember me when you come in your kingdom!" Jesus told him, "Today you will be with me in paradise," and he was saved.
Whether you are young or old, you have that same opportunity today. There is a city whose walls and ramparts are salvation, whose builder and maker is God. It is a strong city in which there is peace like a river. You can have such peace now, if you believe in Jesus Christ. Tell him, "I thought I could handle myself. I thought I could save myself, but now I see that I cannot." Do not be like the people about whom we read in Isaiah 26:16-18:
LORD, they came to you in their distress; when you disciplined them, they could barely whisper a prayer. As a woman with child and about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, so were we in your presence, O LORD. We were with child, we writhed in pain, but we gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth; we have not given birth to people of the world.
Oh, they thought we were pregnant and were going to give birth to a child; but they gave birth to futility, wind. But Jesus Christ gave birth to salvation, not to wind, and his salvation is for you. Therefore, I urge you to say, "God, I trust in you." Do not trust in man; trust in God, who cannot lie.
May God have mercy upon us and forgive us our arrogance! In our field of vision, we only saw ourselves. We were narcissists who spoke about self-esteem, not confessing our sins. May God forgive us all our sins and open the gates of his strong city to us. May he wash us in the blood of Jesus Christ, that we may come into the city as righteous people, people of faith. Jesus Christ is a friend of sinners and will not reject anyone who comes to him in faith. In fact, he tells us, "Come unto me and I will give you rest." May all who are weary come unto him even now and receive rest for their souls. When they do so, they will sing: "We have a strong city, a city full of peace, whose walls and ramparts are salvation. God is within her; nothing in all creation is able to shake her."
I am reminded of the last words of Jonathan Edwards. Just after he was appointed president of Princeton, he became ill with smallpox. As he lay dying, the people standing around him, thinking he had already died, began expressing their concerns: "What are we going to do? What is going to happen to the college? What is going to happen to us?" Edwards opened his eyes and said, "Trust in the Lord and you shall not be afraid." Then he died in peace.
Our Deepest Desire
The sixth point has to do with the deepest longing of a citizen of the city of God is. Isaiah 26:8-9 tells us,
Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.
Citizens of heaven are not yearning for position or power or things. Our deepest longing is for God himself-to be near God, commune with him, and know his purpose. Because our chief desire is God, we do not hunger and thirst for things of this world. Jesus told us, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." In the Song of Solomon we see the nature of a love relationship, how the girl wants to be with the young man, and the young man wants to be with the girl. In the same way, man is created to enjoy fellowship with God. So Jesus told us, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
We find this idea expressed in Psalm 42, Psalm 63:1, Psalm 27:4-5, and Psalm 84:2. All these passages say the same thing, that for a child of God, there is only one thing he asks, one thing he seeks, one thing he longs for-God himself.
St. Augustine said our hearts are truly restless until they find their rest in God. God created us that we may be satisfied in him alone. I pray that God alone would be the cause of our true happiness.
The Level Path
The seventh point is that these citizens walk in straight paths. They are obedient. Isaiah 26:7-8 tells us, "The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you. . . ." In Psalm 107:7 we find the same idea: "He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle." When we walk in the way of God's word, we walk in level paths. The Lord makes our way smooth and straight and removes obstacles from our way.
We live in a world of darkness, but God's word is light to our path and lamp to our feet; therefore, we do not stumble. When tempted, the Lord makes a way out for us that we may not fall but stand firm. Places rough in prospect are smooth in retrospect.
We see this illustrated in the life of Joseph. Remember what he said after going through all kinds of rough terrain in his young life? "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50:20).
Because the Lord of Hosts is with us, our journey will be smooth. When Egyptians pursue us, we can wait for God to deliver us, and he will. When no water is found for three days, we can wait for him to give us water, and he will. When that water is bitter, we can wait for him to make it sweet, and he will. When no food is available, we can wait for God to provide us with manna, and he will. Only do not murmur, but trust in him who is the good shepherd of Israel because we know that he is taking us in a straight path to the city which flows with milk and honey. When Amalekites attack us, we can wait for his orders, and he will raise up a Joshua to deliver us. He who brought us out of our bondage to Pharaoh will bring us into a land of eternal rest. He will dry up the Red Sea and the Jordan River, making our path smooth. He will cause the walls of Jericho to fall so that his people may enter and trample the city of man in triumph.
The path of the righteous is level because it is the path of the word of God. God is with us, so we know that all things will work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
We Have a Hiding Place
The eighth point is that we have a hiding place in God. In verse 20 we read, "Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by."
When God deals with his enemies, the people of the city of man have no place to hide. They cannot run away to divine wrath. What should the people of God do at this time? What did Noah and his family do when God dealt with the wicked world? What did the Israelites do when God dealt with the Egyptians?
The Bible tells us that Noah and his family entered into an ark, the Lord shut the door, and they were totally safe. The people of Israel in Egypt entered into their rooms, shut their doors, and were safe because they had applied the blood of the Passover lamb upon their doors. As citizens of God's city, we also have a place to hide from all troubles. Psalm 46 tells us, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Then the psalmist says, "Therefore we will not fear." We are in the city of God in which there is a river that makes glad the people of the city. "God is within her," we are told, "the Lord Almighty is with us." So we are in God; we are in Christ; and the Holy Spirit of God dwells within us.
Jesus also told us we must enter our rooms and shut the door when we seek God: "But when you pray, go into your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6:6). Shutting the door means we shut out all doubts so we can commune with God.
As you go into your room, shut the door, and begin to read God's word and pray, what should you meditate on? God's divine omnipotence which can be exercised in your behalf; God's divine wisdom, which is given to those who ask; and God's divine omniscience which sees and knows all things. When we do this, we can have great confidence that God's plan is always good. When we meditate upon divine love as disclosed in the Holy Scriptures, especially in the act of sending God's Son to die in our place, we know that God is interested in us and will help us right early. God always keeps his promises, and every promise in the Bible is "Yea" and "Amen" in Jesus Christ. As we meditate upon divine immutability, we can rejoice knowing that God never changes.
God is our hiding place. There may be danger all around us. There may be hawks flying in the sky above, but the chicks get under the protective wings of their mother hen where they are warm and safe. Have you ever seen them with their little heads sticking out from under the wings, chirping without any fear? This is our heritage. It is the picture we find in Psalm 91:4: "He will cover you with his feathers." That does not mean God has feathers; it is a metaphor that illustrates how we can abide in him without fear.
We do not even fear death. God will cover us with his feathers and we will find refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will be our shield and rampart. When all people forsake us, he will not forsake us. As David said, "You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance" (Psalm 32:7).
Our Great Hope
Now we must face the most important issue. Though we live in this world now, eventually we will die. What happens to believers when they die? The ninth point is that we have a great hope: we will be raised to life.
Isaiah 26:19 says, "But your dead will live." This tells us we do not need to fear death, for we will be raised up from the dead. God has a plan for his dead. Whether we live or whether we die, we belong to the Lord; therefore, we have great comfort. "[T]heir bodies will rise." We believe in the resurrection of the flesh. Christ died for us and was raised from the dead for us. Because he lives, we will live also, and our bodies will rise from the dust.
This is total salvation. We do not accept the Greek view that only the soul is immortal. We believe in the salvation of our physical bodies as well. So verse 19 tells us, "You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy." Both of my parents have died; as far as their bodies are concerned, they are dwelling in the dust. But they are God's dead, and so this command applies to them: "Wake up and shout for joy." This is the only place in the Bible we see God's dead rising to shout and sing.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul speaks of this resurrection of God's people:
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
We find this idea also in Isaiah 25:6-8, which speaks about a great feast for God's people right after the resurrection. It takes place on the mountain of God, which is the city of God:
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine-the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.
The citizens of heaven are people of great hope! Their hope is in Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead.
Conscious of God's Grace
The tenth point: Citizens of heaven are conscious of God's grace. We do not merit or earn our salvation. Isaiah 26:12 says, "Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us." We find the same idea in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.
There is no boasting among the citizens of heaven, but only thanksgiving. As the hymnwriter said, "Grace, grace, God's grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within; grace, grace, God's grace, grace that is greater than all our sin." It is amazing grace, because where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.
Jesus told us, "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Our repentance is a gift. Our fruit is the fruit of the Spirit of God. Even our faith in Jesus Christ is a gift. All of our good works we have done through God's enabling grace. Thus, in the last part of Isaiah 26:8 we read, "Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts." Soli Deo gloria!
The City of Man
What about the city of man? Its citizens are characterized by total depravity: "Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the Lord" (Isaiah 26:10). Though the citizens of the city of man are shown God's common grace, they remain unthankful and perverse. In verse 11 we read, "O Lord, your hand is lifted high," referring to a word of judgment coming down on them, "but they do not see it. Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame; let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them."
Such people are characterized by impenetrable blindness. They are totally perverse and irretrievably bound for divine judgment. They have no fear of God or regard for his glory. As enemies of God, their eyes have been blinded by the devil that they may not see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in the gospel. Therefore, total destruction will come upon them: "He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust" (vv. 5-6). Also we read, "See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer" (26:21). When the Lord comes to save his people, he will also judge those who dwell in the city of man. Finally, we read, "With a mighty voice he shouted: 'Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!'" (Revelation 18:2) That is what will happen to the city of man.
What About You?
If you are still arrogant, I pray you will pay attention to this word. God is coming to punish every citizen of this world who treated him with contempt and refused to walk in the way of his word. This day you are hearing the word because God cares for you. This day he can save you. He is the only Savior, and he will save everyone who comes to him.
I beseech you by the mercies of God to humble yourself, repent of your sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone. I pray that God will bring you out of the kingdom of darkness and bring you into the kingdom of his dear Son. Then you will have a hiding place, God himself. Amen.
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Copyright © 2003, P. G. Mathew
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