When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. (Is. 4:4-5 NKJV)
It that great day of the Lord. All things of man are passing away. The Lord is bringing his judgment to bear upon the earth. He alone is exalted in that day. He alone the sole actor. He alone the only God.
Everything that has beauty, everything that man deems lofty shall be brought down. "The day of the Lord of hosts Shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up – and it shall be brought low" (Is. 2:12 NKJV). Logan, UT is surrounded by majestic mountains and valleys which are absolutely beautiful. Those who have lived in the area boast of their beauty, but even these shall not remain. Whatever we deem lofty, shall be brought down.
The ships of the sea will be removed. All our proud and tall building shall be gone. Your nice car. Your nice house. All fancy computer gadgets will be taken away. All things we hold dear in this life shall be consumed in that day of the Lord.
This judgment reaches us as well. We look to those things more than the Lord. We would worry more about our house than the Lord in that day. It is a terrifying thought to look at all we own, all we plan, all we want to do and it to be taken away. "I’ve just got to get such and such done…" "I don’t want to die before…"
"The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down" (Is. 2:11 NKJV). "Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil" (James 4:13-16). Moreover, we shall gain the opposite of our desires:
"Instead of a sweet smell there will be a stench;
Instead of a sash, a rope;
Instead of well-set hair, baldness;
Instead of a rich robe, a girding of sackcloth;
And branding instead of beauty" (Is. 3:24 NKJV)
If such judgments are rendered, who shall stand? You will. And I will too. We all will because we’ve been washed and clothed with Christ in baptism. We shall dwell in the glory of GOd in that day. There is no reason to fear that judgment. All our haughtiness, all our desires for the things of this world, all vain hopes are taken from our midst. They are taken away "by the Spirit of judgment and by the Spirit of burning" (Is. 4:4). Such a spirit of judgment came once before on the world: at the flood. And this spirit of judgment came upon you in the waters of baptism, which St. Peter says is what the flood is all about.
Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The later is that "spirit of burning." This is not an all consuming and destructive fire, but a purifying fire which saves our souls. The fiery coal from heaven purifies Isaiah. The purifying fire of the font, supper, and keys take away your blood-guilt and give you instead forgiveness life and salvation. Yes we desire many other things besides the one thing needful (Jesus Christ), but we need not fear. The Lord will save you anyway. "Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Cor. 3:12-15).
It may not be joyful to see the Lord’s judgment come down against all lofty things of this world, but it is a joy to know that in this judgment he comes to save. This judgment brings us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven. The Spirit of judgment and fire came to you already in baptism and continues to come in the Supper. We are in Christ and he in us. THe judgment can’t harm us.
The judgment of the Spirit
Bestows a wat’ry grave,
Yet the burning of the SPirit
Doth purify and save!