Dear Calvin Church,
The Lord is good to His people. He is rich in mercy and I hope you are sensing His greatness.
Here is my devotion on the Plagues. Today I look at the 7th Plague: What the Hail?
Here is also a meditation I had after waking from a nightmare:
I knew I suffered from acrophobia, but at the end of November 2019, I discovered I suffered claustrophobia as well. When my face was locked into a mask on the radiation table, and I couldn’t move, I surprisingly and immediately panicked. I couldn’t breathe, even though the mask allowed me complete freedom to do so. My heart rate went up to 160 beats and I freaked out. Embarrassing! Well, just a few nights ago I had a dream where I was locked into a box that was absolutely dark. The darkness closed around me and suffocated me. I woke up in a claustrophobic sweat. As my heart settled from its wild pounding, and as the tears dried up and my panic subsided, I lifted my voice of thanksgiving to God: I don’t have to live forever in a place of extreme phobia. I deserve it, but I won’t suffer it.
The Bible tells us of a place reserved for those who have rejected God, rebelled against His authority, and mocked all His demands for their repentance. In Luke 16:28, Jesus called it a “place of torment.” In Matthew 25:46, Jesus called it an “eternal punishment.” In Matthew 22:11-14, Jesus called it a place of “outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” It is like being in that box of darkness I dreamed about, but going on forever and ever with no escape. In Matthew 18:9, Jesus called it a “fiery hell,” so in Revelation 19 John saw a vision of the smoke of hell rising up forever and ever. These pictures of outer darkness and fiery torment are probably metaphors for a place that our minds cannot begin to comprehend. However, it will definitely be a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth and extreme torment. That is no metaphor. No wonder Jesus said, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:4-5).
Hell is where God’s wrath is poured out in all its holy terror. The anguish it produces is beyond description. When Jesus contemplated going to the cross to suffer that wrath for sinners, He cried out, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me” (Luke 22:42). Jesus shrank from this dreaded encounter with hell. He had to be very God to endure that, because only God could suffer it and endure. But, even then, though He was fully committed to saving God’s elect, this drop into hell, even for a few hours of time, this was extremely frightening and distressing for the Almighty God in human flesh. It caused Him to sweat blood! That is something to think about!!
We are used to saying, “I know because of my sin, I deserve hell.” But do we really consider what that actually means? Do we really contemplate what we were saved from? In Zechariah 3:1-3, when the prophet had a vision of Satan accusing Joshua the high priest, the Lord rebuked Satan saying, “Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” It is a holy mystery that we are saved from such terror. I am glad for it and it causes my heart to rise up in eternal gratitude that Jesus went to hell for me. I couldn’t endure it. Even just thinking of it, I am twitching in panic. But whenever you feel like complaining that life is hard, your marriage stinks, your job is an ordeal, and your future appears bleak, consider how because of Christ you are not going to suffer in hell. Let that gift of grace strengthen your resolve to give up your complaints and grumblings and live for Him in a life of holy thanksgiving and worshipful service, loving Him. Let it stir you up to love and good works, bearing patiently with those that seem unlovely to you. You are set free from hell in order to live and love in Christ. How marvelous!