God’s Judgements Do Continue Up To That Final Judgement (Part Two)

April 23, 2015

Friends,
Pr. 11:31 says, “If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!” The message, the declaration, the truth of what this verse is saying is obvious. So the question is, is this a verse that at present, in our day and time, pertains to humankind –those who are righteous (meaning those who do what is right –1 John 3:7), those who are ungodly (meaning those who are corrupt / irreligious / profane / godless), and those who are sinners (meaning those who keep sinning) receiving their due on earth? Or should we consider that that which is taught in the book of Proverbs is to be inconsequential to everyone that has lived, is living, or will live since that moment at the cross when Jesus paid mankind’s debt of sin?

I certainly would hope that all who claim to be Christians do acknowledge that the book of Proverbs, just like the book of Psalms, Isaiah, and Deuteronomy, and just like all of Scripture, is to be regarded as completely significant for understanding correct theology –that is, how we are to understand who God is, how He relates to humans, and what He expects of all of us. If Jesus (and the New Testament writers) quoted the Old Testament extensively as that by which we are to order our lives, we are greatly mistaken if we think that we, as well, are not to quote it and live by it. (Mt. 4:4)

So, this being the case, let us reread the Proverbs verse above and accept that, either by allowing everyone their due (through consequences) or by pronouncing upon them their due (through punishments or rewards) God has and always will operate in this manner toward mankind. Let us recognize that this aspect of The Truth (about God’s never-failing just judgements) should be acknowledged as a given, considered soberly, and responded to accordingly by all men, and especially by those who claim to uphold God’s Word.

Does the Word of God support what I have just written? It does, and throughout. Here are just some of the many passages that show it:

Rom. 13:1-5 informs us that he who rebels against governing authorities is rebelling against God who has set all authorities in place. It says that the authority figure “is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrong-doer.” (v. 4) Regardless of whether or not the agent is also angry, this verse is saying that it is God’s wrath that is brought down, through His agent, as punishment upon the wrong-doer. For God’s moral law was made for curbing wicked men’s actions (1 Tim. 1:8-11), but, if there is no one who is functioning in particular situations as God’s servants to execute His wrath on the wicked, God will do it Himself. (1 Cor. 5:12,13 // 1 Tim. 1:19,20 & 3:6 // Rev. 2:5,16,21-23)

Does a governing authority ever rebel against God and operate unjustly or immorally? Absolutely, and injustice is not God’s wrath, but men’s cruelty. In those cases, which are indeed many, God’s “agent of wrath” brings himself under God’s wrath. For truly, anyone and everyone who conducts himself sinfully (disobediently / in falsehoods) remains under God’s wrath. (John 3:36 // Gal. 1:6-9 // 2 Thes. 1:6-10 // 1 Tim. 4:16 // Heb. 10:26-31) He lives outside of the love and mercy of God –held under punishment until the Final Judgement (2 Peter 2:9)– unless he repents before his physical death (Heb. 9:27) and obeys God’s commands. (Mt. 19:17 // John 15:10)

Let’s remember that wrong-doers, in God’s eyes, can be individuals as well as groups of individuals. (Ezek. 21:1-5 // Luke 12:20,21 & 19:41-44) And let us also remember that although God can, and sometimes does, fully deliver the righteous who are (often unwittingly or unintentionally) aligned with the wicked (Gen. ch. 19), He does not always do so (Ex. 1:8-11 // Luke 21:12-24), even though He will grant them His strength, comfort, and provision as they call out to Him in the midst of the war, famine, plague, flood, persecution, or other. (2 Cor. 1:3-11)

Something else we should keep in mind when we’re focusing on God’s judgements: Not all hardships or tragedies we encounter are a result of our negligence or sin. Instead, the cause may be the laws of nature God set in place at creation’s dawn, or the effects coming from a fallen world, or Satan and his agents, or God’s loving training. (2 Cor. 12:7-10 // Heb. 12:5-11) If it is the latter, God can use any of the other causes to apply the training, doing so not to punish, but to teach us stamina and wisdom, to teach us to recognize His voice at a moment’s notice, to teach us to better empathize with others, and to become mature, complete, and conformed to Christ-likeness (Rom. 8:29 // Ja. 1:2-4) so that we can receive the crown of Life. (Ja. 1:12)

So, even though it is often difficult to decipher the reason behind catastrophes, this should not cause us to disbelieve the fact that God is continually exercising justice throughout the earth. (Jer. 9:24) For God’s Word reveals to us that He is.

Pr. 15:10 says, “Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the [righteous] path.” The whole counsel of Scripture informs us that this discipline comes from God, either through consequences, through an agent of God’s wrath, or directly from God Himself. As 3:33-35 says, “The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked… He mocks proud mockers… [and] fools He holds up to shame.” These verses show that God Himself executes these judgements and the wording infers that He does so upon such people during their earthly lives. This includes the age we are in since the cross, for both Ja. 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 paraphrase Pr. 3:34 when they say, using the present-tense, “God opposes the proud.” To be opposed by God is to reap woes / judgement / punishment. “And those who walk in pride He [God] is able to humble.” (Dan. 4:37)

Pr. 5:22 says, “The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him” while verse 23 says that he will die due to his lack of discipline. Chapter 11, verse 27 states that those who seek mischief will receive evil themselves. We are told that disaster overtakes sinners (13:21) –their ruin contrasted with those whom the Lord protects (3:25,26)– and that the arrogant, as well as the perverse, will reap a fall. (16:18 & 28:18) Moreover, “A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed –without remedy.” (29:1)

In Jer. 4:18 we are told that sinful conduct and actions bring bitter punishment, and the context shows that God is the One punishing. As God says in verse 12, “Now I pronounce My judgments against them” while in verses 27 and 28 He says, “The whole land will be ruined, though I will not destroy it completely. Therefore the earth will mourn… because I have spoken and will not relent, I have decided and will not turn back.” This is referring to a judgement of God on earth.

Jer. 5:3,9,10 also points out God’s punishment on earth when it says, “Oh LORD… You struck them, but they felt no pain; You crushed them, but they refused correction… Should I not punish them for this? declares the LORD. Should I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? Go through her vineyards and ravage them, but do not destroy them completely… Your wrongdoings have kept these [seasonal rains] away; your sins have deprived you of good.”

Jer. 6:11-19 speaks of earthly punishment, as well, when it says, “This is what the LORD Almighty says… But I am full of the wrath of the LORD… Their houses will be turned over to others. …they will be brought down when I punish them… I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes…” Should anyone think that people own houses in Hell? No, this judgement from God is executed on earth. And should anyone think, “Well, this is referring to the Israelites before the cross”, let them understand that Scripture makes it clear that God’s past judgements, including those that fell upon the Israelites, were written down as warnings for us. (Rom. 11:22 // 1 Cor. 10:1-12 // Heb. 3:7-15 // 2 Peter ch. 2)

Jer. 15:6-9 says, “…You keep on backsliding. So I will lay hands on you and destroy you… I will bring bereavement and destruction on My people… suddenly I will bring down on them anguish and terror… declares the LORD.” Later God asks, “Why bring such great disaster on yourselves? Why provoke Me to anger..? You will destroy yourselves…” (44:7,8) Thus we see that sin, which reaps disaster for the sinning ones, is equivalent to reaping God’s wrath. This happens on the earth as is obvious when God makes such statements as, “Your cries will fill the earth.” (46:12)

Isa. 45:7 is a statement that blatantly tells us that it is the Lord who brings prosperity and creates disaster (on earth). In Amos 3:6 God says, “When disaster come to a city, has not the LORD caused it?” Lam. 3:38 has a similar question: “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” Verse 39 then goes on to ask, “Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins?” Let’s understand that when a “living man” is punished, this means it is a man receiving punishment on earth. Indeed sin reaps punishment –which is actually the Lord’s mercy to persuade the sinner to repent. For “sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (Ja. 1:15) The Lord does not want us to reap death (Rom. 6:23), but to walk in His love / His Life –which comes (only) by obeying His commands. (Dt. 30:15-20 // Mt. 19:17 // John 15:10)

In Isa. 54:16 God informs us that it is He who forges a weapon fit for its work and who creates the destroyer to work havoc. Is this not called “God’s judgement”? Chapter 59, verses 1 and 2 tell us that it is sin that separates people from God and causes Him to refuse to listen to their prayers. Again, is it not a judgement from God when He refuses to listen to a sinful person’s prayers?

Let’s consider this sobering verse: “‘I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them,’ declares the LORD, the LORD Almighty.” (Isa. 19:4) This verse cannot be viewed any other way than that it is referring to a nation receiving God’s punishment –on earth– regarding a cruel dictatorship. Isa. 26:9b cannot be viewed otherwise either, for it says, “When Your judgments [LORD –v.8] come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.” In verses 20 and 21 we read God’s admonition to His people to hide themselves from His wrath which He is bringing against the sinners of the earth.

Ps. 76:6-10 is undeniably about God’s angry judgements of justice in the earth: “At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot lie still. You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before You when You are angry? From heaven You pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet– when You, O God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land. Surely Your wrath against men brings You praise, and the survivors of Your wrath are restrained.”

Ps. 64:7-9 is similar when it says, “But God will shoot them [those plotters of injustice –v. 6] with arrows; suddenly they will be struck down. He will… bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn. All mankind will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what He has done.” This can only be describing God’s judgements on earth and the reactions of its inhabitants. And then there is Ps. 78:38 which mentions God’s partial judgements in the world, for it says, “Time after time He restrained His anger and did not stir up His full wrath.”

In Ezek. 23:49 God says, “You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry.” In 33:12 He teaches, “The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys…” In Ho. 5:10,14,15 God says that He will pour out His wrath on them… and tear them to pieces until they admit their guilt and seek Him in their great misery.

In Amos 8:11,12 God declares that the days are coming when He will send a famine through the land –a famine of hearing the words of the LORD so that people will stagger about searching for the word of the Lord, though they will not find it. Rom. 1:28 says that because people refuse to retain the knowledge of God, He gives them over to a depraved mind. 2 Thes. 2:11 speaks of God’s punishment against those who refuse to believe and love the Truth, for it says, “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.” All these references are undeniably about God’s judgements in the earth. And for anyone who has eyes to see, “The wrath of God is [indeed] revealed from heaven [from God / God’s throne / God’s command / God’s agents of wrath] against all the godlessness and wickedness of men…” (Rom. 1:18)

I could go on and on with Scripture verses that speak about the judgements God deals out on the earth. And besides those that pertain to mankind in general, there are many specifics I could mention as well. Here are a few of those:

In 2 Sam. 12:9-14 we read that the Lord declared over David’s household the judgement of calamity and death due to David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba and of murdering her husband, Uriah. Even though God forgave David (v. 13), He did not revoke the decreed punishments; and chaos did pursue David’s family after that.

God punished King Nebuchadnezzar by giving him the judgement of insanity for his continued arrogance (Dan. 4:28-33), though he was restored after he eventually repented. (v. 34-37)

In Acts we read about several of God’s judgments, one being when Ananias and his wife Sapphira, members of the early church, were immediately struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit by way of lying to Peter. (5:1-11) Later, we see that Simon the sorcerer (who believed the Gospel), received, via Peter, a curse for a perverted view and request, though also a warning to repent, which Simon quickly did. (8:18-24) We read that Herod, after accepting sacrilegious praise from the crowd for his public speech, was struck down by the Lord, eaten by worms, and died. (12:21-23) And we read that Paul cursed Elymas, a false prophet who was opposing the Truth, will temporary blindness. (13:6-12)

Gal. 6:7,8 warns that everyone reaps what they sow, notifying us that this decree has been solidified by God who will not be mocked. To reap what we sow is a pronouncement still in place. Therefore, those who sow sinfulness must understand that they will reap punishment from God –here, in this life. And that if they do not repent, they will reap punishment eternally. God’s Word –the Old Testament which Jesus honored and quoted, as well as the New Testament– reveals this Truth obviously and abundantly. We, therefore, are to live by, including receiving our doctrine from, “every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Dt. 8:3 and Mt. 4:4)

Sincerely,

with love,
Rachel

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