As heralds of God’s judgment, forerunners risk being labelled “doom-and-gloomers.” From a biblical perspective, this title is fitting. The prophet Amos warns that the day of God’s judgment will be a day of doom and gloom for the wicked: “It is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:18b–20, ESV). However, the phrase “doom-and-gloom” carries a far more nuanced meaning in our modern society that stands in stark contrast to the message of a forerunner.
In our modern context, doom-and-gloomers are overly pessimistic fearmongers who preach disaster without hope. Like Chicken Little, who is famous for being so anxious that a single drop of rain convinced her that sky was falling, anxious doom-and-gloomers default to a worst-case scenario with every hint of a burgeoning season of national difficulty. A rumor of war, a dip in the stock market, a rise in the cost of living, the threat of a pandemic, a lost election, a Supreme Court ruling, or any number of other setbacks become evidence that the end of life as we know it lurks just around the corner. Always emphasizing the negative, they offer no solutions and no hope. At best, they suggest the possibility of an animalistic survival among the strongest and most prepared. In contrast, the message of a forerunner is fundamentally hopeful—even when warning about the devastating consequences of rejecting God’s moral instructions.
In even His most severe judgments, God used His people to emphasize the hope that accompanies repentance. Before declaring the gloom and doom accompanying divine judgment, Amos preached, “Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people” (Amos 5:14–15). Similarly, when proclaiming the day of the Lord, the apostle Peter explains, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise [of judgment], as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (2 Pet. 3:9).
God’s heart is not to see His creation destroyed. God’s heart is to see people live righteous and abundant lives. Therefore, He does not need heralds proclaiming America’s inevitable doom. Instead, He needs ministers whose warning message is intended to call people to repentance. As such, our warning message ought also to be hopeful.
Regardless of our circumstances, we join Amos in exhorting others to “seek good, and not evil” (Amos 5:14). Moreover, we boldly proclaim, “The name of the LORD is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe” (Prov. 18:10). However, this promise is both hopeful and a dire warning to those who refuse to repent because “The way of the LORD is a stronghold to those with integrity, but it destroys the wicked” (Prov. 10:29).
As forerunners of God’s judgment, we warn people with the hope that they will repent; therefore, we cannot adopt the mentality of doom-and-gloomers. No matter how dire our national future appears, we must never forget that we are the ones tasked with proclaiming God’s good news and offering the hope of a glorious future. Fundamentally, our warning is a call to respond in faith. Our job is not to emphasize how bad things will get but to warn that only the righteous will be safe from God’s judgment.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.