Would you want to be called terrifying? What do we think of when we hear the word terror? We fear ‘terrorism,’ so we have a “war on terror.” We’re rightly fearful of terror. It describes hopeless fear. And the book of Isaiah uses it to describe the Lord.
In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. –Isaiah 2:20-21
Chapter 2 begins by describing how God’s City, Zion, will be lifted above everything, like the highest mountain. Every nation will come before God, and His Law will finally be the true measure of justice in this world.
But there’s a flip side. Before that is established, God will clean out the dross, eliminate whatever is alloyed to His people, separate the wheat from the weeds, the goats from the sheep, the hay from the chaff, the gold from impure elements.
Humans are made to worship. But, lacking hearts of faith, believing Satan’s lie, we mistrust the Lord, avert our eyes, hide and cover ourselves with leaves and whatever our hands can weave together.
We worship the work of our hands. This is a literal thing for those who have statues and amulets. But it is just as true for the Western businessman or woman who has fixed their identity in their career. In America, work is the idol we serve. We brag about how little we sleep and how many hours we put in at the office. We admire the rugged soul who takes his work on vacation, logging in, unable and unwilling to take a break.
Of course, this worship is just as false as the worship of shrunken heads, ancestor bones and golden statues. Nobody is really slaving away as much as they pretend.
False religion always depends on a carefully crafted image, rather than the truth of the heart.
There will come a day of reckoning. God will not allow us the luxury of our images. We’ll toss any false god into the holes of bats and we’ll experience true terror.
Nothing strikes fear like the truth. Nothing is more true that pure Justice.
The thief and murderer must sear his conscience against the knowledge of his ways. But even then, there is terror.
Each criminal fears exposure. Each of us fears the day our sins will be exposed.
A dawn is coming. And unless you expose your sin willingly in repentance before God, He will expose it on that day in righteous judgment.
For those who have repented of their false religion, that day will be joyous.
The others will experience terror unlike any they’ve ever imagined.