The earth mourns and withers;
the world languishes and withers;
the highest people of the earth languish.
The earth lies defiled
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed the laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,
and few men are left.
The wine mourns,
the vine languishes,
all the merry-hearted sigh.
The mirth of the tambourines is stilled,
the noise of the jubilant has ceased,
the mirth of the lyre is stilled.
Desolation is left in the city;
the gates are battered into ruins.
For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth
among the nations,
as when an olive tree is beaten,
as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done. Isaiah 24:4-8, 12-13 ESV
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. John 3:16-19 ESV
On April 18, 1906, a terrible earthquake shook San Francisco and the area around it. The city of San Francisco had been built quickly with a lot of wood, and the earthquake destroyed many buildings that hadn’t been built to withstand the shaking. Worse than that, several fires started because of the earthquake, and the earthquake broke many of the water pipes, which meant that firefighters didn’t have enough water to fight the fires. The fires burned for three days and destroyed almost 500 city blocks. Three thousand people died in the earthquake and the fires, and half of the city’s residents became homeless and had to sleep in tents. It was a terrible disaster.
Isaiah talked about a terrible disaster that was coming, not to one city or nation, but to the whole world. He had been speaking God’s message to the nations of that time and place in history, such as Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, and Egypt, but then Isaiah talked about a judgment that would fall on all the earth. He talked about the devastation of God’s judgment that all people would experience because they had turned away from him and disobeyed his laws. All of the happiness and celebration people had known would be forgotten, and the world would be devastated and ruined.
This is a very scary picture, and we feel afraid when we think about God’s judgment, because we know that we are sinners and that we can’t help ourselves. But God loves us so much that he sent Jesus, his Son, into the world. He didn’t want the whole world to be condemned, but instead he wanted to save the world. So Jesus took on God’s judgment at the cross, and everyone who believes in him doesn’t have to worry about God’s judgment. The Bible says that believing in Jesus is like coming out of darkness and into light. We are safe from God’s anger and secure in his love, now and forever.
Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to save us. Please keep us in your love forever. Amen.