Tag Archives: judgment

(2 Samuel 12) Who’s Unfair?

Before you tell God how unfair He was to take David’s newborn son, you need to stop. God is very clear to tell us in His Word that there are consequences for sin, and sometimes innocent people suffer.

God doesn’t want that.

How many times must He tell us to obey Him and be blessed, to trust Him and enjoy the good things He offers to His obedient children? And how many times must He tell us how much He hates, and punishes sin? I don’t know how much more clear God can be about that.

Then let me ask you this: are there innocents in your home who are suffering because of sin in your life?

We all know of children who live in poverty because their drunken fathers can’t hold a job. There are bruised and battered children whose mom can’t control her temper. There are children in foster care with parents in jail, on the streets, or dead because of sin. And there are people who suffer their whole lives with learning disabilities, even physical disabilities as a result of a mother who couldn’t stop shooting up, or couldn’t put down the alcohol and cigarettes while she was pregnant.

Is that fair? Are you going to blame God for that, too?

It grieves me that there are children growing up without any knowledge of God because parents choose golf over Sunday School, and brunch over going to church. The effect of the sin of rejecting God could reach into eternity for the innocents in those homes.

I know it’s the “woke” thing to do to blame everyone else for our struggles. I’m so over this whole thing. I will tell you, whether you want to hear it or not, that you – YOU – are responsible for your behavior. YOU are responsible for whether you obey God, or choose sin.

And here is the other side of that coin. Your sin can and does effect innocent people. It’s not God who is being unfair.

It’s you.

(Numbers 11-15) It Will Kill You

God wants us to take a good look at sin from His vantage point. Whether it’s the coveting of what non-believers seem to enjoy as in the case of the Jews wishing they were back in Egypt where they were well fed; not trusting God like the Jews who campaigned against going into the Promised Land; or open defiance of God’s Law like the Jewish man who gathered firewood on the Sabbath, God wants us to know He will not tolerate sin in any shape or form.

You want meat like the Egyptians? You’ll get meat. And it will kill you.

You can’t trust God to give you what He’s promised? Don’t go into Canaan. And it will kill you.

You think an act of disobedience is no big deal because you think collecting wood is more important? Go get your wood. And it will kill you.

How much more clear can God be? You can defy Him, reject Him, rationalize your sin…

and it will kill you.

That is a death, my friend, worse than anything you can imagine. That death, eternal agony, void of any hope, endless pain and suffering is the death God wants you to understand.

Your only hope is to confess and repent of your sin, accept the fact that Jesus paid your death sentence, and allow Him to cleanse you and give you the power to be obedient.

You can live in your sin… but God wants you to know it will kill you.

(Genesis 3-5) Because I Love You

I never considered God’s judgment on Adam and Eve an act of love before. Had He allowed them to continue to live in the Garden, and had they eaten from the Tree of Life, they would have been forced to live forever in their sin, struggling in this sinful world century after century, millennium after millennium. They would have had no hope of heaven, because they would not have died.

Yes, they were doomed to a difficult existence during life on earth. They were to experience sickness, loss, heartache, enemies, and death. Sin does that to a person.

But God, even as He sent them away, promised the Savior. God did not leave them without hope.

The writer of Hebrews, and Psalm 3:12 tell us:

the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

God always punishes sin because He loves us. He wants us to turn from sin so that we can enjoy a relationship with Him in this life, and forever. We can’t do that if we hold on to sin. He is holy. Holiness and sin do not exist together. God wants us to exist together.

God didn’t wash His hands of Adam and Eve when they sinned. When He threw them out of the Garden, He didn’t turn off the sun, or destroy creation to teach them a lesson They still enjoyed sunsets, smelled the flowers, tasted the food. God didn’t stop blessing them. I’m sure they laughed again, were excited about the births of their children, enjoyed a romantic get-away to the mountains occasionally. (Well, I’m not sure of that last one, really. I’m a bit of a romantic.)

I think they even enjoyed a relationship with God eventually, although much different than the one they knew before sin separated them. God still was involved in their lives as seen in His conversation with Cain, giving Cain a chance to repent. (4:6-7)

I’ve gone through times of discipline because of sin in my life. Our world experiences the judgment of God because of sin. And often our natural response is to ask, “Why?”

“Why is life so hard?” “What did I do to deserve this illness, or this loss, or this hardship?”

“WHY ME?”

And I hear God answer:

Because I love you.

God’s Judgment (Ezekiel 20-21)

When you consider God’s final judgment, what comes to mind? Some people picture a big old drunken party around a campfire. Some see people wandering aimlessly through space, dragging the chains they formed in this lifetime. Many people don’t want to believe there will even be a final judgment, just nothingness, that we will cease to exist when we die.

God told Ezekiel to spell out exactly what His judgment on the disobedient Jews would entail, and Ezekiel complained, “Ah, Sovereign Lord! They are saying of me, ‘Isn’t he just telling parables?'” (20:49) Those Old Testament Jews didn’t want to believe in judgment any more than people in 2020.

So let me ask again: what do you believe about God’s judgment?

I notice as I read Ezekiel this morning how often God tells us His judgment protects His Name, that His judgment reveals who He is to the nations of the world. His Name which is Holy, Holy, Holy. If there was no judgment, He could not be Holy.

Scripture also tells us God’s judgment is without mercy. Can you wrap your mind around that truth? Some will argue that because God is love He wouldn’t condemn anyone to a terrible eternity in hell. That because God is merciful, He wouldn’t judge without mercy.

What do you say to that?

Was God speaking in parables, in fairytales, or using scare tactics to get us to obey Him? Or is there an actual place, void of God, void of light, void of fellowship, where the groans and wailings of the condemned are the only sounds, where there is no hope, no reprieve, no comfort? Is there a place where pain and suffering beyond anything anyone has ever experienced in this lifetime, no matter how awful, is the only reality forever?

What do you say to that?

Ezekiel kept telling Israel about the judgment that was coming even if they didn’t believe him. We need to do the same. Because God will seriously judge without mercy, and hell is real.

But, we also need to tell people the one and only way they can avoid God’s final judgment. They need to know that Jesus paid that awful penalty for them. He met His own requirements so no one has to spend eternity without Him.

Just as God judges the guilty without mercy, He shows mercy to those who come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. To all of us who repent of sin, who find forgiveness in the cross, we need have no fear of God’s final judgment.

What do you say to that?

He’s Got His Reasons (Jeremiah 10-14)

Jeremiah was fed up. He was following God, warning the Jews about consequences for sin, doing what God asked him to do to show the Jews they needed to repent, but they ignored him. Instead of repentance, sin ran rampant, and Jeremiah had had enough.

“Drop them off like sheep to be butchered,” he prayed. “Set them apart for the day of slaughter. Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the peoples who do not call on your name.” (12:3; 10:25)

I mean, he’s got a point. People who reject God, those who flaunt their sinfulness and persecute we who follow Jesus ought to be wiped out, they shouldn’t be allowed to continue. Right? “Get ’em, God! They deserve it.”

I’m reminded of James and John who wanted to call fire down from heaven to destroy the Samaritans who had disrespected Jesus. Jesus’ answer? “Move on, boys. Let’s leave these folks alone.”

Really? Jesus let them get away with treating him so badly?

Yes.

Yes He did.

And here’s why: After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Apostle Philip went to Samaria and shared the Gospel. Many Samaritans were saved as a result. Most likely some of those James and John had wanted to incinerate came to know Jesus as their Messiah!

I guess the lesson here is, let’s go about our day doing what Jesus told us to do. Let’s love our neighbors, do good to those who mistreat us, pray for our enemies. Let’s go and make disciples, grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus.

Then let’s let judgment up to God. He’s got His reasons.

 

Exactly! (2 Chronicles 30)

God was very clear about how the Old Testament Jew was to approach Him. There were strict laws to follow, including a very important purification ceremony. They were not to participate in the Passover unless they first went through the process of purification spelled out by God Himself. These rituals were important and pointed to God and the coming Messiah.

So when a bunch of Jews came to Jerusalem to celebrate the first Passover since the Temple had been restored, they got there too late to do the purification thing. They jumped right into celebrating the feast without going through the prerequisites. Not good.

So King Hezekiah prayed God would forgive “everyone who sets his heart on seeking God… even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” (verses 19-20)

I had to stop and think about that because God has made it pretty clear that He has set the rules and His rules stand. You don’t just get a free pass if you are sincere. Yet these people seem to have been given a free pass because of their sincerity.

Is that what I should take from this? Does God accept any and all worship if a heart is sincere? NO! That is not the lesson here at all.

As I was thinking and praying about this, God brought to mind an example in my own life. Years ago I was the choir director at a Christian Church where salvation through baptism was preached. In fact, there were some dear people in that congregation who firmly believed heaven was being prepared for people of that denominational affiliation only.

Anyway, one Sunday I was shocked when, after the invitation during the morning worship service, two teenage boys went forward to pray to receive Jesus and be baptized. (The baptismal was always full and ready to go.) The pastor got on his knees with the boys at the altar and quietly prayed with them. He took a minute or so to have a private conversation with them, then stood up to face the congregation.

Now this is what shocked me: he announced to the congregation that the boys agreed to come back to be baptized during the evening service instead of right then at the end of the morning service. We sang a hymn, and the service ended.

I spoke with the paster after church. He had plans that afternoon and didn’t feel like he had time to baptize the boys and get to where he needed to be on time. I asked him if that wasn’t a bit hypocritical, seeing he preached you can’t be saved unless you’ve been baptized. What if the boys die this afternoon without being baptized?

He answered, “Well, then God will judge their hearts.”

EXACTLY!!!

I feel God brought that memory to mind today to emphases that fact. I think in the case of the Jews for whom Hezekiah prayed, God is giving a glimpse of the New Covenant, His rules after the cross. Salvation is NOT found in religion, or in religious activities, not in sacrifices, not in baptism, or church attendance, or reciting prayers, or doing things like carrying a Bible, abstaining from alcohol, not shopping on Sunday, or whatever else one thinks looks Christian.

God judges the heart.

Here’s the other thing, though. The Jews in these verses weren’t sincerely worshiping Baal or some other figment of imagination. They were sincerely worshiping the God of the Bible. Not religion. God.

The point is, God sees the heart. He alone knows which of us have confessed our sins and accepted the gift of grace through the blood of Jesus. That is salvation. Whosoever believes. (John 3:16) If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

It’s not a religion. It’s not a ceremony. It isn’t even praying a certain prayer. Hezekiah prayed for everyone who “sets his heart on seeking God.” It’s all about God.

So I ask you: Are you sincerely seeking God? If you are, you will have to look into His Word, seek Him as He revealed Himself in those pages of the Bible. You might have to give up your preconceived notions of ceremony or the rules of the sanctuary or denomination you attend.

But God promises that if you seek Him with all your heart you WILL find Him. (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13, among others) He isn’t hiding or playing games here. He wants you to know Him. And He wants to forgive your sins if you’d just ask.

Let’s not get so caught up in religion that we miss the most important thing: our hearts’ condition before a Holy God. He knows what is in there. And He will judge us accordingly.

 

Do You Hear It? (Isaiah 27)

Isaiah continues to talk about God’s judgment on sin. But he also reminds us God will protect His children from the outcome His enemies will face. I love this picture:

“Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the Lord, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it.” (2b-3a)

I am part of that vineyard, God’s Church, through the blood of Jesus. God says He protects it, waters it, guards it against harm. I know that a healthy vineyard goes through pruning, and harvest, and that’s not always comfortable. But God assures us He’s got our backs even when we face the trails of life. It gives me such peace to know the One who cares for me.

Then God says something that I need to remember. Listen to verse 4:

“I am not angry. If only there were briers and thorns confronting me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them all on fire.”

This verse should terrify some. God will pass judgment on anything and anyone who tries to harm His Church. And it will not be a gentle tap on the wrist. The idea of God going to battle against anyone, or condemning someone to that fire should throw fear into hearts. But God is not motivated by anger. He is motivated by love, and here’s how I know that:

“Or else let them come to me for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.” (verse 5)

Do you hear God’s heart? I do. God’s will is that no one die without Him. He WANTS everyone to come to Him, to accept what He died to give. He WANTS to protect and defend and nurture and ultimately to spend eternity with each and every one of us.

Some people will go to hell. But that’s not what God’s heart wants.

Do you hear the tenderness in verse 5? He says He will destroy His enemies, but He’d would rather not. “Let them make peace with me.”

Have you ever heard the words, “I love you,” from that special person in your life? Those three words can bring such joy when you know the sentiment is true. What happens then, when that special someone repeats those precious words a second time? Maybe slower, softer, emphasizing each word?

“I love you. I. Love. You.”

That’s what I hear in God’s voice as He said these words in verse 5, as He talks about people who position themselves as His enemies. As He readies to go to war against them, to mete out that final judgment, His heart still cries out:

“Make peace with me. Oh, make peace with me!”

Is there someone I know who needs to make peace with God? May I hear the anguish in the heart of my Savior as He pleads with them to come to Him. May I be faithful to tell them how they can do exactly that, to introduce them to the Savior who loves them so much.

But sharing Jesus isn’t just about helping someone avoid hell. It’s about hearing God’s heart. Do you hear it?

 

 

When Bad Things Happen (Jonah)

Most of us have had bad news told us, or have gone through really hard times and have asked, “Why me?” If you’ve been with me very long you know I believe the correct question to ask is, “Why NOT me?”

But here we have  a boatload of men facing death at sea for no real fault of their own. Jonah was disobeying God. Jonah was receiving God’s hand of punishment. The sailors were merely caught in the middle. They were caught in the same storm Jonah was facing as a direct result of his sin.

So let me ask you: Are there people caught in the crosshairs of God’s judgment on you because there is sin you haven’t dealt with in your own life? Is your family facing difficulty because you are running from God?

When Jonah’s sin was dealt with, God calmed the sea. The sailors were saved, both physically and spiritually. Read the book of Jonah today. It is an amazing account of God’s grace.

I wonder, on a larger scale, if our nation is facing God’s punishment on Christians who are not dealing with sin in our own lives. Is the USA going through this awful unrest because the Church is trying to exist with Satan instead of fighting him?

I think the book of Jonah tells us when bad things happen, we need to first look at whether they are God’s punishment on us for tolerating sin in our lives. Then if God points out the sin we need to confess it, repent of it, ask God to wash it away and then live in obedience. If we don’t, that stormy sea will not calm. And we just might go down with the ship.

December 30; What Not To Wear

Revelation 15-18

So often we can become impatient for God to give our enemies what we think they deserve. But as I read John’s vision in the book of Revelation, I realize God is not out to avenge our enemies. But He will certainly deal with His.

His final judgment will be unimaginably awful for anyone who rejected Him during their lifetime on Earth. It is a truly frightening account of their future.

Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments. (16:7)

God isn’t going to arbitrarily torture someone just because He didn’t like them, or because of the color of their hair. But a painful existence is ahead for anyone who has ignored God’s wooing, His hand of correction, His conviction over sin, His constant attempts at winning the world. His judgments are true and just.

Jesus says, “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” (16:7)

So let me ask us this: What are we wearing? What clothes are we hanging onto? Good deeds? Charity? Church attendance? Morality? Good luck with that.

Those are exactly the things NOT to wear. When those filthy rags disintegrate, and they will, you’ll be standing there as naked as the day you were born.

For me, I want to be awake, wearing the righteousness Jesus bought for me on the cross. I want to keep that robe close to me because it is the only ticket into heaven anyone has.

I want that for you, too.

 

December 11-14; And The Winner Is…

Revelation 11-14

When I read the book of Revelation as a picture of life, I see that life is messy. It’s chaotic. There are disasters and sorrow and struggles. Let’s face it. Satan is powerful and will continue to fight God, using us as pawns, until the final day when He who was, and is… has come!

I read about the battles, and Satan’s tactics to take as many of us as he can with him into hell. But then in chapter 14 I see the Lamb! I can almost hear the song of the redeemed, and I know we win! One day the earth will be ripe for harvest. That sickle will swing and life as we know it will end. Oh, how I long for that day!

But if you don’t know the Lamb, if you haven’t accepted the forgiveness of your sin through the blood of Jesus, you should be terrified at the thought of that day. Because you will not win. You will drink the wine of God’s fury.

As 2019 winds down, as we look forward to a new year, and a new decade, I pray you will be on the winning side, worshiping the Lamb who was slain for love of you. May God bless you, draw you to Him, and give you strength in the days ahead. Life’s not easy. We are at war. But be assured…

The winner is you, if you are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!