As I searched through the hymnal for a list of songs to lead, I found almost nothing on the Judgment or on God as Judge. It just wasn’t there.
One little phrase from the Psalms. And another from a song written by a brother in Christ about the Lord coming to judge. And that was it.
Why, I wonder, is one of the major themes of Scripture absent from our hymns?
For one, we have inherited many, if not most, of our songs from other groups. But that still begs the question.
Perhaps we find it strange to sing in a courtroom.
If there is one truth which we confront weekly around the table of the Lord, it is God’s judgment.
At the cross, God judged sin. His guilty verdict singed the very air. He became the justifier of men, while remaining just in his character.
The table itself is a moment of judgment, as Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32, with language heavy with terms of judging and condemnation.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. (ESV)
That God is Judge makes a difference in how we live now, James tells us in 5:7-9:
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
Peter tells us that God is “ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5).
We eat the supper of the Lord with an eye to the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His manifestation will usher us into judgment. We stand under the blood of the cross, but we know we will still be judged according to our deeds. And our greatest deed is trusting in the death of Christ.
With such confidence in God as Judge, let us rejoice at this meal. And find a song for the courtroom.