(Part 8) A Call To Exalt The Lord As King And Righteous Judge Of All The Earth
By Pastor Robbie Casas
b. The Reason for the Final Call (v. 13)
Read Ps 96:13:
… for He is coming,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
And the peoples in His faithfulness.
In this verse we are given the reason for creation’s rejoicing: “… for He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.”
Now God’s “coming to judge the earth” will be through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Jn 5:22, 27, we
are told that all judgment has been committed to Christ: “22 … He has given all judgment to the Son…. 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.” And this “authority to execute judgment” Jesus will exercise at His Second Coming.
Scripture repeatedly portrays Christ returning to earth in order to carry out that judgment. Jude 14-15 says, “14… Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” Paul told the Thessalonian believers in 2Thes 1:7-10: “7… when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed – for our testimony to you was believed.” Jesus Himself spoke of His return to judge the world to His disciples, as recorded by Matthew in Matt 16:27: “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.”
Notice also the consecutive repetition of the phrase “for He is coming”. This may just be for poetic effect; however, I believe it is more than that – the repetition is for emphasis: the Lord is really coming.
And “He is coming to judge the earth…. judge the world.” Take note again of the consecutive repetition of “judge the earth…. judge the world” (“earth” and “world” being synonymous) also for emphasis: the Lord will really “judge the world”.
The last two lines tell us how He will do this: “in righteousness” and “in faithfulness”. In other words, this judgment is, of course, in accordance to His being the holy God that He is. Look at the way Rev 19:11 describes Christ in His Second Coming: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.”
The thoughts in these last two lines of Ps 96 are essentially a repetition of the thought of the last line in v. 10, again to emphasize the Lord’s coming judgment.
There will be two opposite reactions to the truth of God’s “coming to judge the earth”.
For those who have rejected Him and who will continue to reject Him, there can only be terrible dread at the prospect of that coming day, and sheer terror and utter humiliation as they finally stand before the Holy Judge. Just go back to the passages we had earlier looked at: Jude 14-15, 2Thes 1:7-10, Matt 16:27. Picture the terrifying judgment on these who had insisted on spurning the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, stubbornly believing that they did not need Him and that by their own ways they can deserve a heavenly eternity. How horrible it would be for those who have trivialized hell and those who flippantly remarked about ending up there, betraying their ignorance of its unimaginable but real horrors!
Furthermore, when the Lord said in Matt 16:27, “For the Son of Man… WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS,” it needs to be made clear that the repayment will be on the basis of His “righteousness” – His holy standards (see also v. 10), and of His “faithfulness” – both to His holiness and to His promises in Scripture to the wicked and to the righteous.
Of course, we know that this does not imply that Christ will repay anyone with entrance to heaven if his deeds are sufficient to earn his own salvation. First of all, Eph 2:8-9 tells us that salvation is “not… a result of works, so that no one may boast.” That’s why it is “by grace” alone “through faith” alone in Christ and His work on the cross alone. Besides, no human deeds – no matter how good these may look to the rest of the world – would ever be enough to erase man’s debt of sin to God because all these “good works” have been tainted with sin (cf. Isa 64:6).
That is why those who would rely on their own good works or religious deeds would, in the end, find this false reliance both utterly futile and finally fatal. Their own righteousness will fail before the “righteousness” of God (cf. Rom 3:23: “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”).
We need to remember this basic truth when faced with passages that seem, at first glance, to be teaching that man’s own good works can earn him salvation. An example of this is Jn 5:28-29: “28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” Just remembering the apostle’s John theology in his gospel would debunk this idea (cf. 3:17-21; 6:28-29). In this passage, “those who did the good deeds” are those who have done this as a result of having been saved in Christ (see Jn 3:21, “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”). So the “deeds” here are simply the proof of whether one is saved or unsaved.
God through Christ would indeed “REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS” – both outrightly sinful deeds and stubborn sinful unbelief born out of deceitful self-righteousness.
As a side note, many will say to this, “How can a God who is supposed to be loving judge in this way? I cannot believe that to be possible.” How? Because He is holy (1Pet 1:16 quoted from Lev 19:2) and man is a sinner (Rom 3:23).
In connection with this, especially in the context of calamities and crises (like the present one we are in), many (including Christians) recoil from the idea that these come from God’s hand. And so they blame nature and (for some Christians) even Satan and his wicked forces.
But the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God rejects this. In fact, see what God Himself claims in Scripture. Isa 45:6-7: “6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, 7 the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.”
The prophets as well confirm this on behalf of God. Lam 3:37-40: “37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth? 39 Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins? 40 Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord.” Amos 3:6-7: “6 If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the Lord done it? 7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets.”