This world was created by the word of God (2 Ptr. 3:5,6). It will also be destroyed by the word of God (2 Ptr. 3:7). The word that God speaks thus determines the course of this world from start to finish. But the words of men also have a part in this world’s demise, for God in his holiness must judge the words of men, thus bringing upon them and their world a final judgment.
“”But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Mt. 12:36,37 NIV).
The word of men brings judgment
We humans do not take the words we say seriously enough. Scripture admonishes us to watch what we say extremely closely:
“And above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath. But let your ‘Yes’ be yes and your ‘No’ be no, so that you may not fall into judgment” (Js. 5:12 NET).
Our words can bring judgment. Words spoken by men against God are singled out in Scripture as one reason why judgment of this world comes:
“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly . . . of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage” (Jude 14-16 NIV).
To grumble is to accuse God of doing a poor job of ruling this world. It is to say that you do not like the way he does things and that you could do better. It is to boast about one’s self, thus substituting self as one’s god. It is idolatry. Therefore we are warned against this sin, for it brings judgment.
“And do not grumble, as some of them did–and were killed by the destroying angel” (1 Cor. 10:10 NIV).
This misuse of words, which springs from pride, will reach its climax in the last days of this world, when such blasphemous rhetoric against God flows forth unrestrained. Men will be so arrogant and proud in their use of words against God that they will be no better than beasts.
“The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven” (Rev. 13:5,6 NIV).
For such arrogant words of disrespect and rebellion against the glorious God, beast-like men will be judged and punished with destruction.
“These men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals–these are the very things that destroy them” (Jude 10 NIV).
Christians living in increasingly secular nations governed by increasingly godless politicians and laws already are experiencing the heart-breaking force of those laws that seek to flood the land with wicked ways that threaten to sweep away the godly in an ungodly stream of words.
“Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth” (Rev. 12:15,16 NIV).
The symbolism of this difficult passage admits various interpretations, but there are intriguing similarities between it and Paul’s word to the Corinthians about his coming to see them. His words can just as appropriately apply as though Jesus were speaking to this world about his second coming:
“Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you (“They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation’–2 Ptr. 3:4 NIV). But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Cor. 4:18-21 RSV).
There is the similarity of arrogant words spoken against God and his messengers. There is the promise (and warning) of a return in each case. There is also a reminder that, as powerful as words are, as a basis for creation (by God) and judgment by him as well, there is something yet more powerful than words: It is the power of the one speaking those words. The kingdom of God is not mere words but embodies God’s great power in those words.
In the case of arrogant men, anyone can speak brash and arrogant words of disdain and challenge when the true ruler and king is away. But when he returns, all those many words that formerly seemed such a powerful, raging river threatening to sweep away all in its path–they suddenly disappear as though swallowed up by the earth, and they are no more.
“But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.'” (Lk. 19:14 NIV).
They may not want him to be their king, but “He was made king, however, and returned home” (v. 15). When Jesus returns as king of this earth, Paul’s question to the Corinthians takes on new and added meaning when applied to the return of King Jesus addressing this world’s inhabitants:
“What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?” The answer to that question depends on our relationship to our King. If it is a relationship of adoration and love, then he will return in gentleness to take us to him, so that we can be where our beloved is. But for those who did not want him to be king of this world or of their own heart, it is a different story.
“Those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me” (v. 27).
“You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled” (Ps. 2:9-12 ESV).
The words of blasphemous men and the words of those in league with the devil combine at the end to bring the fire of hell to this earth.
“”The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (Js. 3:6 NIV).
This last reference in particular traces God’s judgment back from a person’s words against God to their source: the fires of hell itself. This is of particular importance to us who live in the last days of this planet earth, for before the judgment of God on this world reaches its climax, the world will suffer the very fire of hell itself: It will literally be hell on earth.
Hell on earth
“The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth” (Rev. 9:1-3 NIV).
“They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them” (vs. 5,6).
Towards the end of the end, God releases demonic entities from hell itself to give a taste of what continued rebellion will ultimately lead to in hell. It is literally hell on earth and human beings can no longer die, for they are already dead within. “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean” (Mt. 23:27 NIV). Only the actual transference of the body and soul to hell remains.
But though God delays that final transfer, judgment has been set. For “they have chosen their own ways, and their souls delight in their abominations; so I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring upon them what they dread. For, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me. Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at his word: ‘Your brothers who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, “Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy!” Yet they will be put to shame'” (Is. 66:3-5 NIV).
“So I, the Lord, say: ‘You have not really obeyed me and granted freedom to your neighbor and fellow countryman. Therefore, I will grant you freedom, the freedom to die in war, or by starvation or disease. I, the Lord, affirm it! I will make all the kingdoms of the earth horrified at what happens to you'” (Jer. 34:17 NET).
The word of God is a fire that brings judgment
“‘Is not my word like fire?’ declares the Lord” (Jer. 23:29 NIV).
“This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: The Sovereign Lord was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land” (Amos 7:4 NIV).
“By the wrath of the Lord Almighty the land will be scorched and the people will be fuel for the fire; no one will spare his brother” (Isa 9:19 NIV).
This judgment of God comes not only directly from Him but also from his servants, particularly, in the end times, from what Scripture calls “the two witnesses”:
“If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die” (Rev. 11:5 NIV).
Thus judgment comes upon the world both through the word of God and the word of man: the righteous man who speaks words of truth that judge the world: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1 Cor. 6:2 NIV). And the unrighteous man who speaks judgment upon himself through his unrighteous words: “By your words you will be condemned” (Mt. 12:37 NIV).
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22 NIV).
We know from the Word of God that Jesus will come again to judge the world (Jn. 5:22, Acts 17:31). That judgment will be by that Word of God and by fire (2 Ptr. 3:7). Jesus is the Word of God (Jn. 1:1, Col. 1:19) and it is by this Word of God, Jesus, and through him, that God will judge this world.
“This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ” (Rom. 2:16 NIV).
“By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2Pet 3:7 NIV).
“Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations” (Rev. 19:15 NIV).
“The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh” (Rev. 19:21 NIV).
But there is a way to escape the judgment
“Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” (Rev. 2:16 NIV).
But the call is ignored by many. They continue to heap judgment upon themselves through their blasphemous words against God. Therefore, the fire of God’s judgment falls upon them.
“The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.
“The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done” (Rev. 16:8-11 NIV).
This, then, is the incredible folly of man in the last days: Having been warned through the words of Scripture, and the believing church as a confirming witness, that judgment is coming, man still refuses to repent. Even when killer heat waves oppress the land and drought and wildfires burn it up, he still refuses to repent. And there will be even far worse calamities: nuclear war and worldwide devastation in its aftermath, along with unheard of natural calamities–and supernatural calamities, such as the hordes of demonic beings from hell being released upon earth.
But even this will not deter man from his obstinate opposition to God and his blasphemous words against him. Therefore, God will speak one final word to them:
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels'” (Mt. 25:41 NIV).
There will also be a final word to those on his right: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world'” (Mt. 25:34 NIV).
And then the final word to all of creation:
“It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 21:6 NIV).
“You have exalted above all things your name and your word” (Ps. 138:2 NIV).
This will be the final moment of all history. Then there will be silence, for mere words of men cannot do justice in giving glory to God. The mouths of men will be shut, as all stand in silent awe and know that the Lord is God.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth!” (Ps. 46:10 RSV).
“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (Hab. 2:20 NIV).
“Silence is praise to you, O God in Zion” (Ps. 65:1).
Words of God, words of men,
Bring fiery judgment at world’s end.
The words of men
Shall cease, and then
The words of Christ, the Lamb:
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mt. 24:35 NIV).