I sat in the courtroom
Waiting for the Judge.
The air, thick with tension.
The mood, somber.
He walked in
And everyone stood.
The atmosphere changed.
The Judge was present, yet unseen.
His presence, overwhelming.
Invisible, yet manifest.
As he sat on the throne
A banner was unfurled above him.
“I, the LORD, love justice.”
We could not see his face
But his voice we could hear.
“Hear, O mountains, the LORD’s accusation;
Listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth.
For the LORD has a case against his people;
he is lodging a charge against Israel.”
“Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites,
because the LORD has a charge against you.”
An angel appeared and said to the Judge:
“What are the charges?”
The Judge spoke again:
“Israel’s arrogance testifies against them;
the Israelites, even Ephraim, stumble in their sin;
Judah also stumbles with them.”
“Israel’s arrogance testifies again him,
but despite all this he does not return to the LORD his God or search for him.”
The angel spoke:
“And what is the evidence?”
The Judge opened a book
And gave it to the angel
Who then handed it to me.
The book contained everything
I had ever said, done or thought.
It was the story of my life.
Filled with pride on every page.
The Judge spoke again.
“The defendant is charged with arrogance
And innumerable other offenses.
The list is long.
Theft, lying, lust,
Greed, selfishness, idolatry,
Murder of the heart.
A complete record of all wrongdoing done by this man.
May the court take note that all these transgressions
Are the outgrowth of but one sin.
I then realized the truth.
I am Ephraim.
I was on trial.
I was suddenly filled with panic.
Fear dominated my heart.
Despair consumed me
As my life flashed before me.
The angel asked, “And what is the verdict?”
“Guilty as charged”, said the Judge.
“And what is the penalty?”
“Eternal death in the fire of hell
Where there is weeping
And gnashing of teeth
For all who do not believe.
Things were happening quickly now.
The trial was coming to its end.
And I stood naked before the One
Who knows all.
The angel spoke:
“Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
The Judge gave instructions
Regarding the fate of the defendant.
“Take him away, far away.
I do not want to see this man
Another Man entered the courtroom.
Like the Judge,
His presence was staggering.
He took our breath away.
Look at his face!
He is the perfect Man.
Everything that man could be,
Ought to be,
But unable to be,
The God/Man spoke:
“I have come to defend this man.
And to pay the penalty for his sin.
I will speak to the Judge on his behalf
For I am his defense attorney.
And his sentence-bearer.
“I am here to save him
From the lake of fire.
Where the worm does not die.
And the fire is not quenched.”
This was unbelievable.
I did not understand why
This God/Man would do such a thing.
I cried out.
“But what did I do to deserve this?”
“Nothing,” said the God/Man.
“You deserve to be punished.
Your sins are many.
And they are vile.
If you spend eternity in hell,
Justice will be served.
For you have sinned against Almighty God,
Creator of heaven and earth
And all that is in them.
“The Holy One cannot look at sin.
And your life is filled with filth.
You cannot stand in His presence.
You must be banished forever.
“For it is written:
‘If you kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?’
“But Almighty God,
The Holy One of Israel,
Is also the merciful One.
He is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger,
Abounding in love.
He will not always accuse
Nor will he harbor his anger forever.
“The Judge has made a way
For your sins to be pardoned,
Your slate to be clean.
“He decreed that
When I died on the cross
My death became your death.
When I died,
I received your punishment.
“I took your place.
“I myself bore your sins in my body on the tree.
1 Peter 2:24
“On the cross,
You and I trade places.
I die your death.
And the wrath of God against your sin
Is poured out on me.
Because I suffered for you,
God’s holy indignation is satisfied.
His anger is spent
And justice is served.
“For I am the One, the only One,
Who can turn aside
God’s tsunami-like anger
By absorbing it.
“I died for sins, once for all,
The righteous for the unrighteous
To bring you to God.
1 Peter 3:18
The gospel was the best news
I had ever heard.
With the gift of repentance in my heart
I cried out,
“Lord, I believe!”
The God/Man took my hand.
“Come, my son.
You can now stand in his presence.
Justified, sanctified, glorified.
Because you are clothed
In my righteousness.
“For it is by grace
You have been saved
In me alone.
“The Father no longer sees your sins,
Nor holds them against you.
For they have been cast
Into the deepest sea.
“When he looks at you
He sees my righteousness
Credited to your account.
Now and forever,
Treated as one who is blameless,
Because my holiness has been given to you.
“Come into the presence of the Holy One of Israel
And drink from the river of the water of life
For I have drunk the cup of the wrath of the Judge.”
NOTE: This is one of a serious of posts on the book Knowing God by J.I. Packer. To read the other posts in this series, click here.