Repentance in the Judgment Hour
In reading the gospels, one theme seems to run through each of our Lord's parables, each allegory, each encounter, and each sermon. That theme is our blindness to the depths of our sinfulness, our degradation, the deceitfulness of our own hearts and the desperateness of our wickedness.
This blindness is the universal disease of the human family. Whenever our Lord Jesus Christ encountered a leper, a blind man, a deaf man, a crippled man, a depraved suicidal man, and every mute man we are to see ourselves as we truly are in our heart of hearts. We are to see ourselves in the self righteous, unrepentant Pharisee and the cold unbelieving Sadducee. We are to see ourselves as did Isaiah who went before the Lord of glory and the report came back to him, "the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores".
The Holy Spirit, working through the word of God, is to bring continual conviction of sin, and righteousness, and judgment. Not just when we begin to travel the way of faith but at each step this is to be the confession of our lips.
This is the first fruit to look for when we want to know if a messenger and a message is of the Lord. The method and the means the Spirit uses is seldom popular. We tend to read the word of God and think, "If I were around then I would not have been so unbelieving. How could those Pharisees have been so blind?"
And so we place flowers upon the graves of the martyrs while we ignore the word of God when the Spirit speaks in our own day calling us to repentance and faith. We want the joy of the revival meeting but not the rebuke of the Spirit calling us to rend our hearts and not our garments. We want to feel good and happy and satisfied that all is well in Israel, but then shun the Man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief who declares "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand."
He calls out to us,
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me."
"I know thy works (but) thou knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, blind, and naked."
"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?"
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered you together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings but you were not willing."
To Israel was committed all that pertained to the covenants, the symbols, the prophecies, the commandments, and the Torah. They were sure that Messiah would come soon and destroy the Gentile sinners who had humiliated them and cast the truth to the ground. They were sure that they were the innocent victims soon to be vindicated. Some even thought that by their holy lives they were going to vindicate God. Years had passed since the voice of the last prophet had spoken words of hope and assurance to them.
"Behold I will send Elijah before me to prepare the way of the Lord."
But "Elijah", John the Baptist, had been in their midst and most had regarded him as a mere curiosity and a trouble maker. "Hadn't the leaders of the nation ignored him? Surely they are students of God's word and would listen to any messenger of the Lord. We ourselves search the scriptures daily and know that the promises of the Lord for our deliverance are sure! We have the prophet Moses, we have the temple, we are earnestly seeking to be holy and righteous, we know that we will see our hopes fulfilled."
So we today ask, "Are we also blind?" and to us His reply is the same as to his people of old, "(Because) you say 'We see' therefore your sin remaineth." Until we see the Pharisee in ourselves as individuals, we are as blind as they and our sin remains.
Few individuals received our Lord's praise in the gospels. but there were a few and it would profit us to search them out that we may stand approved of our Lord.
"The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only....When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."
"And, behold, a woman of Canaan.... cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and besought Him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, help me! But He answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt."
"And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee."
How shall we stand before the Son of Man when He comes in the clouds of glory?
Shall we stand because we keep the commandments perfectly and because we think that we are without sin? No, we shall stand if we, like the woman of Canaan, confess that we are mere dogs who are unworthy of the crumbs from His table. We shall stand who confess that we are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked, and unworthy of our Lord's mercy.
Only those repentant sinners who will trust in the sinless Holy One of Israel will be accounted worthy to stand in that day. All who think they are holy, and good, and keeping the commandments will be cast out because they trusted that they were not "sinners as other men". The hour of His judgment has come and who shall be able to stand?
Jesus stands for you in judgment,
He the Lamb all bleeding torn,
Pleading now for you His merits
there before the Father's throne.
See His hands all nail-riven.
See His head all crowned with thorns.
Hear Him say, "For you I suffered",
"It was for you the cross I bore"