EXCUSES AT THE TIME OF JUDGMENT
Some may think, "When I stand before the judgment seat, I will say to God, `You cannot send me to hell because I did not understand the message I heard.’" Some sitting here today may say, "I do not understand; I am not clear; I can probably reason with God for an excuse when the time of judgment comes." However, God has already answered you long ago. Therefore, you have no excuse.
Please listen: "Ninevite men will stand up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something more than Jonah is here" (Matt. 12:41). In this verse the Lord Jesus speaks of one thing, and that is judgment. Will God Himself condemn men’s sins before the judgment seat in the future? God will just sit there and have the men of Nineveh rise up to condemn their sins.
Nineveh was a rather big and famous old city. All the men in that city were sinners. God sent a prophet named Jonah to announce to them that after forty days Nineveh would collapse. The men of Nineveh heard what Jonah the prophet preached. They then proclaimed a fast, put on sackcloth from the greatest of them to the least of them, and cried mightily to God. God saw their works. Knowing that they had turned from their evil way, He did not curse them, and they obtained the grace of forgiveness. The Lord quoted this case to prove that the men of Nineveh would condemn the sins of this generation.
The men of Nineveh repented at the word of Jonah. Behold, something more than Jonah is here! Men today have the words from the very mouth of the Son of God. Who has not read the Bible? Who has not read the Gospel of John? No one dares to deny that he has heard the word of God’s Son. If you have never heard that the Son of God died for you, there is nothing to say. But if you have heard it, you can by no means escape the future judgment. At the time of judgment, the men of Nineveh will stand up and say, "We heard Jonah and repented; you heard the gospel of God’s Son and did not repent. How can you escape this sin?"
Some may say, "It is true that Jonah went to Nineveh to preach and that the men of Nineveh had an opportunity to repent. But I am a country person; no one preaches the gospel to me at the place where I am. God may not be able to condemn the sins of a person like me." However, the Lord mentioned another incident which leaves this kind of person without an excuse.
"The queen of the south will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something more than Solomon is here" (Matt. 12:42). In the time of judgment, the queen of the south will rise up to answer the argument of this kind of person and condemn the sins of this generation.
This queen of the south is the queen of Sheba. Sheba is today’s Ethiopia. This place is even farther south than Egypt. The queen of Sheba came to Solomon from thousands of miles away because she heard of the fame of King Solomon and how much wisdom he had. "Behold, something more than Solomon is here." Our Lord Jesus is greater than Solomon! What He spoke has more wisdom and prudence than Solomon. What He spoke has a greater and deeper effect; it affects the eternal life and the eternal perdition of men. A queen from the south was willing to come from thousands of miles away to hear the words of wisdom from King Solomon. You are just some twenty miles from town. Can you not go into town to find a gospel chapel to hear the word? Even if you are a hundred miles from town, can you not go into town to find a place to hear the word? The queen of the south can condemn your sin because she came from thousands of miles away. Why can you not go from your house? Therefore, those who are not saved will have no excuse at the time of judgment.
NO WAY TO ESCAPE THE TIME OF JUDGMENT
Perhaps some may think, "Since there is judgment, I will find a way to escape." No one should be so foolish; nevertheless, I am afraid that there might be some who have this foolish thought, so I will speak a little concerning this matter. They may think, "Everyone has to die, and judgment will come afterward. I will die and go to Hades. I will hide there and not come out. Those who have been good will be resurrected unto life. Those who have been evil will be resurrected unto condemnation. As for me, I will simply choose not to be resurrected; I will hide in Hades. Would that not be all right?" But this will not work.
Please listen to God’s word: "Though they dig into Sheol, / From there My hand will take them" (Amos 9:2; cf. Psa. 139:8). You think that you can escape the judgment by hiding in Hades and by closing up the mouth of Hades. However, God’s hand will take you out from there. Even if you can dig into Hades, and even if you can dig so deep that you cannot go any deeper, God’s hand will still take you out from there.
Another group of people, today’s scientists or aviators, may think that in the day of judgment they will fly an airplane to the sky and stay in the highest place to escape judgment. However, this way will not work. Please listen: "And though they go up into heaven, / From there I will bring them down" (Amos 9:2). You may climb up, but God will bring you down. Even though it takes much effort for you to climb, it is rather easy for God to bring you down.
Some may think, "I will escape to the high mountains and the bushes. Who then can find me?" However, the Word of God says, "And though they hide at the top of Carmel, / From there I will seek them and take them" (v. 3). You may think that there are so many trees in the high mountains that if you hide there you can escape judgment. But God will search and take you out.
Some may think that since they will not be able to hide in Hades, fly to heaven, or hide in the high mountains, they will escape to the bottom of the sea. However, God’s Word says, "Though they hide themselves from My sight on the floor of the sea, / There I will command the serpent, and it will bite them" (v. 3). You may hide in the bottom of the sea, but God will command the serpent to bite you, and you will have nowhere to escape.
The few conditions mentioned above are just a few pictures that God has painted for you. You may be able to escape man’s hand by going to Hades, heaven, high mountains, or the bottom of the sea, but you cannot escape the hand of God. According to the Bible, there is no way to escape and no way to reason.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 18: Notes on Scriptural Messages (2), Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)