The day of the LORD is coming

See, the day of the LORD is coming–a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger–to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make man scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir.(Isa 13:9-12)

This is a clear sign of the differences between our Anabaptist ancestors and ourselves that they would include this verse in their scripture collection, and it’s basically a verse I am completely unfamiliar with. Jesus, of course, would not have been, and their are echoes from it in his teaching. For example:

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light (Mark 13:24).

and

I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? (Luke 14:29).

and

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Mt 13:41-42).

So, it’s not an “Old Testament vs. New Testament” thing. However, and bear with me here, for our modern world does not like to hear about judgment, there is an important strain in the scriptural teaching of this wrath being a purifying wrath, that burns away the dross and impurities within us. For example,

He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. (Mal 3:3)

and

I (John) indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he  (Jesus) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Mt 3:10-12)

and so on.

What will be destroyed is not ourselves, but our impurities [1]. God promises, in Isaiah, to “put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.” It doesn’t sound pleasant, but I don’t want to be arrogant or ruthless. I want to be humble; and if God needs to humble me to make me humble, then, despite my fear and hesitation, I (in my best times, when I want to be even better) ask God to bring this purification on. May the surgery be swift; I know it will not be painless.

[1] Just to be clear, although I don’t understand the concept of hell very well, I’m aware that many of these verses in the scripture are referring to those “outside,” the “others” who do not seek to follow God, and not just ourselves. But Jesus tells us not to judge others–how do I know who is deserving of hell, and who is not; who gets mercy and who does not? And I prefer to read these verses in the first person: what do they mean for the church and for me,as “insiders.”