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Shock and Awe!
Genesis 19:23-29
Skip Heitzig

Genesis 19 (NKJV™)
23 The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar.
24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.
25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
26 But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD.
28 Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.
29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Making Your Mark

Are you satisfied with just getting through life or do you want to make a difference? God calls each of us to play an important role during our lifetime, but we often forget to seek His will. Join Pastor Skip Heitzig as he looks at the life of Abraham in this two-volume series. Abraham had both ups and downs when it came to his spiritual journey, but he made a lasting mark deep within the fabric of three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. You may find striking parallels between Abraham's life and your own experiences. Learn how to leave a lasting impression on your world as you study the life of this great father of faith. Don't just live--make a mark with your life!

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Transcript

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Genesis 19 is where we're going to look primarily but it wouldn't be bad to pre-mark your Bibles to a couple other passages we're going to look at. And that is II Peter and Luke chapter 16. So if you like to mark it in advance so that you'll be ready on the trigger you can have those passages marked.

There was an explorer that was captured by savages in the jungles of South America. They were dancing around him, getting ready to kill him. He had to think of something quick and he did. He thought he would awe them with magic, so he pulled out of his pocket a cigarette lighter and he waved it around and he said, "I am a firemaker." And with one flick of his thumb, that little lighter burst into flames and the people went back, fell back in amazement. And he said, "Magic." The chief was watching the whole thing and he said, "It sure is. It's the only time we've ever seen a lighter work the first time." Here's a guy who thought he would awe his audience, at least the chief was a little more aware than he had thought.

I'm naming this message tonight "Shock and Awe." It is something you've heard recently as far back as the Gulf War. It is a term that has come about recently to describe military force so intense as if to intimidate the enemy so that they won't even want to fight. It was used in 1991 in the Gulf War. It was used a few months ago when in the first night of the attacks into Baghdad we sent in three hundred to four hundred guided missiles. And then the very next day another three to four hundred cruise missiles. Chapter 19 is the shock and awe of God's judgment on two ancient cities in a plain situated down by the Dead Sea known as Sodom and Gomorrah. In fact, as I was studying this week I discovered something I had never known before, the Bible uses the illustration of Sodom and Gomorrah no less than 22 times as a symbol, a prototype of judgment. So tonight we're going to do that, we're going to look at a few verses, not the whole chapter, it's a lengthy one. But a few verses between 23 and verse 29, and we will learn that future judgment depends on what we do today, here and now. See if you recognize this line from a movie. The line is this, "What we do in this life leaves echoes in eternity." That's from a movie The Gladiator a couple years ago, hit movie in the year 2000. Russel Crowe was its star and he played General Maximis who was a man of great integrity and he held onto his integrity throughout every circumstance because he believed that. He believed that what we do here has echoes in eternity.

Abraham is making his mark. That's the name of our series. He's going to do a great job all in all of leaving his mark on his generation. He has already interfaced somewhat with these two cities. He's been pleading for them in the last chapter, that God would save that city if there were any righteous people at all. We saw that he interfaced with the king of Sodom when he refused to take money from him a few chapters back. But tonight we're going to see him as we step into his sandals, as he looks out over the plain and sees those two cities going up in smoke. Their actions leave echoes in eternity.

I learned about judgment growing up. You see, my parents never threatened me but they always promised. There's a difference between threatening your child and promising. See if they said things like that, "If you touch that you'll get spanked." It was never a threat, it was always a promise. If I touched it, I got spanked. If you do that, there will be consequences. So I learned that their promises are pretty sure and we find that out about God. When God makes a promise, to disobey that brings consequences. Sin always brings consequences.

You could do a word search in your Bibles, in fact it's sort of fun to do it, I did it this week, of words that you would typically associate with God. And some of these words are vital words because they're used so often to describe God's character, his nature. For instance the word love is found 360 times in the Bible, the word grace 148 times, the word mercy 282 times, the word peace 397 times. Now these are all attributes of how God treats us. But also you'd find the word judge is used 188 times, the word judgment 190 times, the word judgments (plural) 122 times; all total over 500 times judgment, most often God's judgment is spoken of. See many people will be shocked on the day of judgment. They will be in awe to discover they deserve it.

Heard about a guy who was speeding, was pulled over by a police officer, asked for driver's license, registration. The police officer handed back the driver's license and the man in the car hoping to get leniency from the police officer said with a smile, "Officer, did you notice my birthday was yesterday." And the police officer smiled back and said, "Well yes I did because that's when your license expired." So he got a double whammy that night, a double ticket.

Now this evening I want to give you four aspects or four descriptions of God's judgment. Again we're looking at God's judgment using the prototype of what Abraham saw in Sodom and Gomorrah in these verses. The first thing we discover is that God's judgment is certain. I want you to look at verse 23, "The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. And then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of heaven. He overthrew those cities. All the plain, all the inhabitants of the city, all that grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him and she became a pillar of salt. Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord and then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of plain and he saw and behold the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace. And it came to pass when God destroyed the cities of the plain that God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt. Now, you will remember back to a conversation that Abraham and Lot had and God assured the prophet that if he could find even ten righteous people in that city, he would spare the entire city of Sodom. So I would imagine that Abraham went to bed that night pretty confident. Great, the city will be spared. Only to discover, as he gets up the next day, sun beginning to rise, going to the very place where he had that conversation. He looks and he sees smoke, a lot of it, rising in the distance. And he understands suddenly that judgment when deserved is certain. Judgment when deserved is certain. Now we know the kind of character God is. We know the Bible describes him as slow to anger. He doesn't have a short fuse, he's longsuffering, he puts up with a lot before he acts. We also know, the Bible describes God as "Not willing that any should perish but that everyone should come to repentance. But having said that we must also concur that when sin, when iniquity reaches a certain level where extending mercy over that point would be immoral, that God must act in judgment and He does. He does here.

There was a atheist farmer who always ridiculed Christians and he put an article in his local newspaper that read, it was a letter to the editor, "I plowed on Sunday, I planted on Sunday, I cultivated on Sunday, I hauled in my crops on Sunday, but I never went to church on Sunday; yet I harvested more bushels per acre than anyone else, even those who are God-fearing and never miss a church service." That was his letter in the newspaper. It was printed by the editor but the editor put his own note afterwards, "God doesn't always settle his accounts in October." In other words, God is patient, oh so patient, slow to anger, longsuffering, but his judgment awaits, it is certain.

Now looking at Sodom, let's move ahead to the future. Turn with me to II Peter chapter 3. II Peter chapter 3. I think it's important to remark as you're turning there that just in case you're thinking there's a difference between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament, this passage out of the New Testament should put that to rest. "Beloved," he writes in the third chapter, "I now write to you this second epistle in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder, that you be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first that scoffers will come in the last days walking according to their own lusts and saying, 'Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of Creation.'" Skip down to verse 8, "But beloved do not forget this one thing that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some count slackness but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But," he continues, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise and the elements will melt with fervent heat, both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire and the elements will melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless we according to his promise look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." I you remember last week that conversation that Abe had with God when they were talking about Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham says, "Will not the judge of all the earth do right?" Do you remember that question? Well now he's standing on the same ridge watching the judge of all the earth do right in bringing judgment upon them. Now a lot of people are troubled with this aspect of God. They don't like it, they don't like to think about it, let alone hear sermons on it. They like to see God as a loving God, a merciful God, a gracious God, a fun God, a wondrous God, a miracle-working God, a gentle and smiling God. And you know what? He is. But he is also a just and a judging God and we discover that in the scripture. Sometimes unbelievers will accuse us Christians of sort of delighting in judgment. You know when we talk about judgment they say we have this twinkle in our eye like we're happy it's going to happen. And we'll speak in a cavalier manner about billions of people being eternally lost. That is not true. You know for a long time I hated to preach on judgment. You know, I preach through the Bible so when it comes up we go through it. And I get to sections like this section and I'd say, "Ugh, I don't want to talk about judgment." Then I began to discover that God's judgment is part of his righteous character and to deny that part of his character is in a sense to deny a large portion of God. You see, judgment is a necessity. If God didn't judge evil, God would be immoral, God wouldn't be loving. He would be untrustworthy. Picture it in this manner: what kind of emotions do you get when you turn on the television or open the newspaper and read about rapes and murders and child abductions, etcetera, etcetera. It should shock us, ti does shock us. Imagine God reading every headline of every newspaper in every city every single day generation after generation. For him, not to deal ultimately with evil would make him immoral, unjust, unloving. Leonardo da Vinci once said, "He who does not punish evil commands it to be done."

There's something else I want you to notice in our chapter, not only is judgment certain, judgment when it comes is sudden. It is sudden. Go back with me to verse 15 of chapter 19 of Genesis. Verse 15, look at what I says, "When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry saying, 'Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.' And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand and the hands of his two daughters and the Lord being merciful to him and they brought him out and set him outside of the city. So it came to pass when they had brought them outside that he said, 'Escape for your life, do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain, escape to the mountains lest you be destroyed.'" Do you get that picture? Lot is lingering, these angels are begging, pulling them out, "Get out of Dodge, man. Run!" Why? Because it was coming swiftly. God waited patiently and then when it came, it came suddenly.

Okay, look with me at verse 23 once again, the sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. So it's sunrise, right? It's real early. Now look at verse 27, "And Anraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord, and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, he saw, and behold the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace." Question: How much time do you think elapsed from the time Lot entered Zoar to the time Abraham reached that plateau where he saw this thing go up in smoke, it couldn't be more than a matter of minutes. A matter of moments. You see, one minute the sun was rising, it was a peaceful day in Sodom, the shops were opening, the Sodom Starbucks was well underway with its brimstone brew of the day. The Gomorrah McDonalds was already filled up. And instantly judgment fell, suddenly, it fell and consumed the entire city.

Jesus Christ in Luke 17, let me read it to you mentions this event and listen to what he says, "As it was in the days of Lot, they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone and destroyed them all. Even so," said Jesus, "It will be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed." When judgment came it came suddenly and when the final judgment comes on the earth it will come suddenly.

Paul reiterates that idea, he writes to the Thessalonians, he speaks in the second letter about the suddenness of God's judgment. He says, "You yourselves know that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night and when everybody says, 'Peace and safety,' then comes (what?) Sudden destruction upon them like a woman in labor pains. Now that's how life works sometimes, sometimes life happens all of a sudden. And all of a sudden a person is face to face with God. They're here one minute and all of a sudden they're dead. All of a sudden there's an auto accident. All of a sudden there's a plane crash. I took out, this afternoon, a record in a file that I have at home of funerals that I have done over the years. And there's a clergy record that tells me what people have died of. And I went through them and I discovered most of the files that I have were sudden deaths, cardiac arrest, automobile accident, RV accident, motorcycle accident, double murder one of them read. Instantaneous, suddenness. I think back to when my brother died years ago in a motorcycle accident, suddenly he was dead. My father one afternoon suddenly died of a heart attack. What happened on September 11th a couple years ago was sudden, we couldn't believe it, we were in shock. What happened in Hypha this last week as a suicide-homicide bomber walked into a coffee shop, suddenly forced people out of life and into eternity. No chance to prepare, no time to change one's mind about God. It is sudden. If you look into the future, when the tribulation comes upon the earth, that also will be sudden. We tend to think of these long protracted judgments over seven years. That won't happen that way. The first part of the tribulation will be peaceful. The middle part will be a covenant that is broken and the last three and a half years will at that time be rapid fire judgments. The Bible describes them as seven seals being opened that usher forth seven judgments. The seventh seal ushers seven trumpet judgments which ushers seven bowl judgments. It's rapid fire judgments upon the earth. In fact, Jesus said in Matthew 24, "It will be a time of greater horror than anything the world had ever seen or will ever see again. In fact, unless that time of calamity were shortened, the entire human race will be destroyed."

There was a rabbi talking to some of his disciples and the disciples asked this rabbi what they thought was a very profound question. They said, "Rabbi, when is the best time for a person to repent?" And the rabbi said, "Well a man must make sure he repents on the last day of his life." "Well rabbi, how can one know when is the last day of his life?" The rabbi smiled and he said, "The answer to the problem is simple, repent now." Repent now, get ready now for the inevitable that is coming and when it comes it will be sudden.

There's a third thing to note about judgment from our text, judgment is certain, judgment will be sudden, number three judgment is severe. Would you go back to verse 24? "Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of the heavens." Now you may want to picture a volcano with flying debris and perhaps magma, burning gasses, sulfur, etcetera. The entire area, by the way, of Sodom and Gomorrah is believed to have been covered, it's underneath that southern end of the Dead Sea from this destruction. And then look with me at verse 28, "He looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward the land of the plain and he saw and behold the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace. And it came to pass when God destroyed the cities of the plain." They were all destroyed, it was a severe judgment. It sounds also like a future judgment. You keep this in mind, you're looking through the lens of Abraham, seeing the smoke rise up, this brimstone, and if you think far ahead into the future, in Revelation 21, this is now after the tribulation, this is after the second coming, this is after the millennial reigns, it says in Revelation 21, "He who overcomes shall inherit all things and I will be his God and he will be my son but the cowardly, unbelieving, the abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolators and all liars will have their part (listen to the description) in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death." Now as your lingering on those word, think of some of the sentiments you've heard people say maybe at work or at school or even in your own family. They talk about, "I don't want to go to heaven, it's boring. I'd rather go to hell, that's where all my buddies are going to be." And they talk about it like it's some nightclub in the sky. That's where the fun begins. Oh no, it will be severe.

A chaplain joined the armed services, it was during wartime and the soldiers gathered around him and asked this reverend, this chaplain, "Sir, do you believe in hell?" He said to the soldiers, "No I don't." And the soldier said, "then would you please resign?" He said, "Why should I resign?" He said, "Well if there is no hell we don't need you. If there is a hell we don't need you to lead us astray. They understood what it meant at the bottom line of life.

It will be severe not only in its destruction but in its pervasiveness. Notice verse 25, "He overthrew those cities," (notice the word all) all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities and what grew on the ground." Nothing was untouched, no one was left out except for one family, we'll get to that in a minute. Young, old; male, female; rich, poor; all is included. By the way, I looked up all in Hebrew, you know what it means? It means ALL, it means every one. No one was untouched. Now I'm going to jump ahead again to a final courtroom scene. In Revelation 20 it's called the great white throne judgment. John said, "Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat on it from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away. And there was found no place for them. And Is aw the dead, small and great, standing before God and the books were opened." Now here's a courtroom scene unlike a courtroom scene. The books are opened, there's no debate about guilt, there's a prosecutor, there's no defender; there's a judge, there's no jury; there's a sentence, there's no appeal; there's prison, there's no escape, no parole. It's done. It says small and great they were standing before God. Again, the somebody, the nobody, the rich and famous, the obscure, kings, queens, peasants, ambassadors, presidents, voters, everyone, standing before God.

I've been to Rome and there's a chapel there called the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, this picture that I saw when I walked in, it's one of Michelangelo's most famous, it's called the Last Judgment. You can see it's a depiction of Christ with his arm raised in judgment and Michelangelo portrayed the judgment of the earth, the dead and the living at that time. The final judgment, Christ putting down the sentence. When that painting which was done in 1533 was first published, it said that all of Europe trembled because of it. There was a pervading humanism in the day and even the church lost sight of the holy presence of God. And this brought to their minds the idea once again, "God is hold and if God is holy, God is just and if God is just, God will judge and the punishment is depicted as very severe. And this did a lot for people who viewed this and they once again saw the need to walk in holiness before God.

Now I'd like you to turn with me to Luke, I mentioned that didn't I Luke 16? If you would turn to Luke chapter 16 in your New Testament. I'll tell you why I'm having you turn here: You and I will read a very vivid account, you might call it an interview with somebody who has died. It's an interview after death of an unbeliever as well as a believer. It is not an out of body experience, it is not an alien abduction, it is not an X-file, it is not fiction, in fact I don't even think it's a parable, because Jesus names two people in the story I think he is actually talking about a very vivid and true thing that happened, something that was seen. Verse 19, "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table, moreover the dogs came and licked his sores (what a picture, what a pathetic picture) So it was the beggar died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom, the rich man also died and was buried." Now let's say you were there in Jerusalem at their funeral, you'd probably see the poor guy being thrown into a garbage dump where bodies were put en masse (like in the valley of Henomon) and burned. But don't you know the rich man's funeral had the best casket, it was a pomp and ceremony, it was magnificent, there were trumpeters and food afterwards and probably very expensive food afterwards. Now that's as far as their body goes but their souls are a very different picture. Look at the next verse, "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. He cried out and he said, "Father Abraham have mercy on me and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in the water and cool my tongue for I am tormented in this flame." Stop. Boy this reads a lot differently than those fanciful bestsellers on The New York Times Bestseller List about dying and seeing a bright light and feeling a warm tunnel and waking up and realizing, 'I can live any way I want to because it's okay, it's all good.' This is different and this is Jesus telling the story. This is Jesus talking. I want you to notice something. First of all, this man is experiencing agony, notice what it says that he is torments in Hades. Notice the next verse, he says, "I am tormented in this flame." That's literal pain. The second thing I want you to notice is he's fully conscious, he can glimpse the other side and see people at peace and rest. The third thing I want you to notice is he has memory, verse 25, "Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted and you are tormented.'" So he sees, he hears, he senses and he remembers. The fourth thing I want you to notice is he is permanently there. He is permanently there. Verse 26, "And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot nor can those from there pass to us. And then he said, 'I beg you therefore father that you would send him to my father's house.'" There's a great gulf fixed, in other words it's impossible to change destinies after death. Did you hear that? That rules out reincarnation, that rules out purgatorial punishment. That rules out what the philosophers, like Hume and Foyerbach said, that we cease to exist after death. This rules out soul sleep, that's what Jehovah's Witnesses teach, Seventh Day Adventists, even Luther for a while. That there is this permanence there.

Let's finish it up because it is poignant, it says, "'Send him to my father's house for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them lest they also come to this place of torment." And Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets let them here them.' And he said, 'No, Father Abraham, but if one goes to them from the dead they will repent.' But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets (in other words, if they can't believe the scripture) neither will they persuaded though one rises from the dead.'" Think of that, talk about missionary zeal, talk about evangelistic zeal. If it doesn't exist anywhere else, be assured it exists in hell. There are people there today who sense the need of the gospel being preached to their relatives. Send someone to tell my family.

Now go back to Genesis, we've seen some pretty heavy things: judgment is certain, judgment will be sudden, judgment will be severe, the final thing I want you to notice is that judgment is selective. Here we close. Judgment is selective, verse 29, "It came to pass when God destroyed the cities of the plain that God remembered Abraham (remember, he prayed last time) and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt." Did you notice that God made a differentiation when he judged the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, a difference between Lot and his family and the rest of the people in the city. You know God di the same in the flood, didn't he? He destroyed the world in the flood but there were eight people in that ark that didn't go through the judgment, they were lifted up out of the judgment as the waters rose.

Would you turn one more time to II Peter? Last time, I promise, but after this is called a Bible study, so let's do it. II Peter 2 verse 4, "For if God did not spare the angels who sinned but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved for judgment and did not spare the ancient world but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness; bringing the flood on the world of the ungodly and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly. And delivered righteous Lot who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked, for that righteous man dwelling among them tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds, then (here is the bottom line, if that's all true, then) the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and reserved the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment." God makes a difference when he judges. Think back, he did it in Ezekiel 9 when the man with the inkhorn marked all the righteous people in Jerusalem so as not to judge them. It happens again in Revelation chapter 7 when 144,000 are marked and kept out of judgment. And it will happen at the rapture of the church when God, like the flood, like Lot, will remove us out of the scene as he judges the earth. That is part of the righteous character and the mercy of almighty God.

Now on what basis does God make that difference? The basis of faith, the basis of a simple, "I place my trust in God, in his promises." Now so far we've been in Abraham's sandals and looking at the plain and seeing Sodom and Gomorrah go up in smoke and it's been a pretty grisly sight. But as we close, would you turn your focus off of Sodom and Gomorrah and onto Calvary. Sodom and Gomorrah was a place of great judgment, Calvary was a place of great judgment. My judgment for Skip's sins for all of his life and all of yours were placed upon him and he died in our place. Our judgment was taken by Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. Now judgment is coming, it will be sudden, it will be severe, but you don't have to go through it.

When homesteading was popular in our country, oh a hundred or so years ago, when people were moving from east to west and were settling out on the plains, a group was traveling by covered wagon, slowly moving across the plains one afternoon they noticed smoke rising out of the horizon, miles wide, many miles wide, moving at them. It was a brush fire, the grass was burning quickly and moving at them rapidly. And sensing that they couldn't escape, one guy was brilliant, he decided to light his own fire and he burned all of the grass around the wagons, the horses, the people. As that fire came quicker and quicker, it looked pretty heavy, it looked pretty magnanimous, it looked destructive, the end is near. The little girl screamed, a lot of the men screamed. "We're doomed," they said. The man who lit the fire said, "You can relax, the flames can't reach us here, we're standing where the fire has already been." It burned around them.

Tonight if you're in Christ, you're standing where the fire has already been. If you're standing outside of Christ, you are standing where the fire is coming. And it will be certain, it will be sudden, it will be severe as the Bible says. In fact Jesus said of the cities that rejected him, listen to what he said, "It will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city." You think of a person who rejects Christ and you could say the same thing, in will be more tolerable in that day for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that person who rejects Christ.

W. C. Fields, the famous actor, was on his deathbed. He was not a religious man but on his deathbed he was thumbing through the Bible. And somebody noticed him, his friend walked in on him and said, "W. C., what are you doing with a Bible?" And W.C. Fields said, "I'm looking for loopholes." There are none, except Christ, he's the only one.

Tonight I am your warning. Tonight I am your messenger from God telling you what the Bible says. So if you ever said, "Well nobody ever told me, well I was never warned," you jus have been. Now you may walk out of here tonight and say, "I'll risk it." You may live ten, twenty, thirty, forty or more years. But one day you will face the judgment of almighty God. And you are either standing where the fire has been, Christ the judgment has been taken upon him. Or, you're standing where the fire is coming. And that's part of the fairness, the justice, and the love of God.

Heavenly Father, we conclude tonight, we have reminisced a lot of scripture, we've looked at a lot of truth tonight. And we discover as we look in the Bible the only loophole to that fire that is certainly coming is the person of Jesus, no one else, nothing else. He alone said, "I'm the way, the truth, the life, no one comes to the Father except through me." And if any have risked up to this point, we pray that tonight you would graciously show them, they can stand where the fire has already been. We would understand that's why you came. You came Lord jesus to take judgment, to be the one punished so that we could escape wrath. And I would pray for those who have come tonight, some who have never received you, some who are uncertain about their future, uncertain about salvation, and many perhaps who have rested upon a past religious experience or affiliation, they are willing to risk eternity for the fact they think that they've already gone to church all their lives, they know certain facts, they believe in a God sort of. But Lord you explicitly talk about the need for repentance, that what we do in this life leaves echoes in eternity. And I pray that what is done tonight would leave an echo that reverberates with eternal life. Lord, only you can save people and we pray that you'd do it again.

Additional Messages in this Series

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7/20/2003
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The Past: Guidepost Or Hitching Post?
Genesis 11:27-32
Skip Heitzig
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Today we embark on a new journey, studying the life of Abraham. I'm calling it, Making Your Mark. Abraham made his mark deep within the fabric of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. More than that, Scripture exonerates him as being an example of faith. But what about his past? How did he begin his journey of faith? You may find striking parallels to your own spiritual experience as we see five experiences that shaped Abraham's earlier life. Let’s learn the first steps in how to leave our mark of influence in our own culture.
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7/27/2003
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Buckle Up! You're Going on an Adventure!
Genesis 12:1-9
Skip Heitzig
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Have you ever thought of life as an adventure? Most people don't. Daily life becomes the daily grind as many just survive: eking out a tasteless and meaningless existence hoping something better comes along in the future. There's one factor that can make all the difference—it's called God's will! To live life according to God's promises and commands, even though difficult at times, will be the most exciting way to make your journey through this life. In this second study on Abraham, Making Your Mark, let's see three principles that brought this sense of adventure.
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8/3/2003
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Warning: Doubt Can Be Hazardous To Your Health!
Genesis 12:10-20
Skip Heitzig
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Doubting God's promises is often the foundational reason we don't experience His blessing. The children of Israel wandered for forty years before entering the Land. Why? "They were not allowed to enter his rest because of their unbelief" (Hebrews 11:19). Their legacy was often to doubt, for the Psalmist says that they, "limited the Holy One of Israel" (Ps. 78:41). Now, even Abraham, the father of faith, struggles with trusting the most trustworthy Being that ever was!
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8/8/2003
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Two Men Under One Microscope
Genesis 13
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8/17/2003
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The Glimmer of the Godly in a Cauldron of Crisis
Genesis 14
Skip Heitzig
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8/24/2003
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The Journey from Fear to Faith
Genesis 15:1-6
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8/31/2003
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A Dark Night; A Bright Future
Genesis 15:7-21
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9/14/2003
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Taking the Long Way Around
Genesis 16
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9/21/2003
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A New Start for an Old Soldier
Genesis 17:1-8
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9/28/2003
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When God Makes His Mark
Genesis 17:9-27
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10/5/2003
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How To Be God's Friend
Genesis 18:1-15
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10/12/2003
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Have I Got Plans For You!
Genesis 18:16-33
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10/26/2003
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Re-run of a Star's Worst Episode
Genesis 20
Skip Heitzig
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The basic idea: Even after years have gone by, years of growth for Abraham, he relapsed into old behavior patterns. The sin principle is always a problem, even for the Christian. If the "old ways" are not sufficiently dealt with, they will grow and threaten to undo us. We look at four scenes in this rerun episode of Abraham, revealing how seriously this battle between the flesh and the spirit really is.
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11/9/2003
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The Gift of Laughter for Senior Citizens
Genesis 21:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Abraham is old here (age 100—a centenarian). His wife Sarah delivers the child promised by God (Isaac) and the result is joy and laughter. We learn five things about the nature of God in this passage.
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11/16/2003
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Faith... For Better or For Worse
Genesis 22:1-19
Skip Heitzig
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Skip speaks about the greatest test of Abraham's life and how he responded to it.
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11/23/2003
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Funeral for a Princess
Genesis 23
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This message highlights the death of Sarah and her husband's response.
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12/7/2003
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Passing the Baton
Genesis 24
Skip Heitzig
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Abraham was the recipient of God's promises and blessing for many years. Now it's time to make sure that his son Isaac will also make his mark and inherit the promises of God. Abraham wants to pass the mantle of patriarch and the baton of blessing to his son by ensuring he marries the right person and continues the family line so that "all the nations of the earth will be blessed," as God had promised. What are the key principles for such an endeavor?
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12/14/2003
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A Senior Saint's Sunset Years
Genesis 25:1-11
Skip Heitzig
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Skip looks at Abraham's obituary as given in Genesis 25. After following his life from his call to leave his homeland, we now come to his last breath and subsequent burial. Encouragement and instruction for facing our own mortality will be considered.
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There are 18 additional messages in this series.
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