“We must not think that God is unaffected by sin or that He will ignore it forever simply because His judgments are postponed. The time eventually comes when that great accumulation of wrath is poured out against sinners. This happens to nations at the moments of their greatest arrogance. It happens to individuals. It happens when the judgments of God are least expected.”
Jesus spoke in his Olivet discourse just before his crucifixion. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. … Be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:37–42, 44).
The Final Judgment – this conclusion to a study of the fall of Babylon to Darius is not something I am importing into the story but rather is itself a biblical comparison. If you know the content of the Book of Revelation, you know that in the seventeenth through the nineteenth chapters the final judgment of God on evil is represented pictorially as the fall of “mystery Babylon” (Revelation 17:5). The lament begins: “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!” (Revelation 18:2). At her fall the kings of earth, who have shared in her sins, cry out: “Woe! Woe, O great city” (v.10). The merchants, who have profited from her commerce, and the sea captains, who have grown rich on her conquests, also cry: “Woe! Woe, O great city” (vv.16,19). It is a scene of utter dismay and anguish.
But in the next chapter we find not mourning but rejoicing, as the saints of God express their emotions at this judgment: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants” (Revelation 19:1–2) Again they shout: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever” (v.3). And again, “Amen, Hallelujah!” (v.4).
Here the Bible links the final judgment to the fall of ancient Babylon, using the earlier fall as a portrait of all sinners’ destinies. And this is good! We tend to sentimentalize evil. But God tells us that evil will be judged and that the saints will rejoice in this judgment, even as good people rejoiced in the fall of Belshazzar and his wicked regime.
But I must also say that God does not get a kick out of the damnation of the wicked. He tells us these things so that we might turn from sin to salvation as provided in Jesus Christ.
Let me present the case in this way. The day is coming – it may not be far off – when you and I and all persons are going to stand before the judgment seat of God. God is our king. But you are a rebellious subject. God is righteous, but you are a sinner. You are to be weighed in that judgment, and the judgment of God written over you is going to be the judgment of God on Belshazzar’s Babylon: ‘mene, mene, tekel, parsin.’
‘Mene’ means that God is going to number your deeds to show that you have failed to achieve his standards. We are told in Revelation of a great book in which the deeds of men and women are recorded. This book will be opened on the Day of Judgment, and the evil you have done will be poured out on one side of God’s scales. That is what the word ‘tekel’ signifies. All the lies, all the hypocrisies, all the self-seeking, all the harm done to others – all this will fill the scale. You will be weighed. And as you stand there that great scale of God is going to go crashing down on the side of your just doom and condemnation.
Then God is going to speak the word peres: divided. The Greek word for judgment means “divided,” for God’s judgment is a final dividing of the ways. One way leads to life; the other leads to the outer darkness of hell “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” and “eternal punishment” (Mathew 25:30,46).
What will you say in that day? How will you respond when God measures your deeds, weighs your character, and declares you wanting?
Left to yourself there will be nothing for you to do and nothing to say in response. But God has done something at the point of your inability. God has sent the Lord Jesus Christ to die in your place, taking the full punishment of your sin upon Himself. Jesus has made it possible for God to apply His righteousness to your account. You have no righteousness of your own—not as God counts righteousness. But God takes those scales, brushes your evil deeds aside as having been punished on your behalf in Jesus Christ, and on the other side of the scale He places His own character. The scales swing back, and you are justified on the basis of Christ’s righteousness.
You must trust Him. You must turn from unrighteousness. Will you? There is no better time to do it than right now.