Like Button

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Judgment of God

The Bible is clear that all humans face a final judgment at the end of time. Sure, there are temporal judgments. A drug addict faces the consequences of his or her choices in his or her body in this life. That kind of thing. But the actual judgment, the final judgment of human beings is yet to come. The same is not true for nations. Israel faced judgment in the Old Testament from their repeated idolatry. From the thousands killed over the rebellion of Korah (Numbers 16) to the exiles into Assyria and Babylon, the nation of Israel encountered the clearly stated judgment of God in real time, not merely some future "final judgment". You see, since nations are not people, they don't face that final judgment. Their judgment is temporal.

I believe it was Ruth Graham who said, "If God doesn't judge America, He'll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah." Many genuine Christians nod at that. Maybe they don't agree fully, but we get the sentiment. America has not declined in its morality; it has plummeted. It didn't slough off Christian values; it jettisoned them. While slow decay could be seen from the early days of Puritan beginnings up into the 20th century, the precipitous collapse from the 1960's has been monumental. It would appear that the sentiment is right.

I have to ask, though, "What makes you think God is not judging America?" Perhaps it's the fact that America still stands when Sodom and Gomorrah got a literal fire and brimstone shower. We can't even be sure where those cities ever were. Or perhaps it's Israel's example. No one has come into our country and carted us off in chains like the Babylonians and Assyrians did to them. We're still here. So, you see? God hasn't judged America. And I suppose there is some truth to that view. But, as always, I'd like to put it to the Bible test. Does the Bible agree with that perspective?

In Romans 1 we read that Paul is not ashamed of the gospel, "for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Rom 1:16). Saved? From what? He tells us a couple of verses later. "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." (Rom 1:18) Oh, I see. The gospel is about salvation from the wrath of God. Got it. So, what do we know? First, God is angry about something. Second, that "something" is "all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." And we know that this condition of men is highlighted by a common characteristic -- the suppression of the truth.

The chapter goes on from there to describe generally what truth is suppressed (Rom 1:19-20) and the consequences of covering this truth. The first consequence is futile thinking and foolish, darkened hearts (Rom 1:21). Notice what follows. For the rest of the chapter Paul describes a series of "God gave them up" events. Do you catch the connotation of this phrase? This is judgment. This is God giving progressive consequences to ungodly and unrighteous humans who suppress the truth by being unrighteous. God gives them up. To what? To impurity found in the lusts of their hearts (Rom 1:24). To worshiping the creature rather than the Creator (Rom 1:25). To dishonorable passions (Rom 1:26). Ultimately to "a debased mind" (Rom 1:28) which results in all manner of evil gleefully engaged and encouraged (Rom 1:29-32).

Now, look back at that chapter. Notice that one of the undeniable texts that classify male sexual relations with males and female sexual relations with females as sin is found there. "Shameless acts," the text says (Rom 1:27). And when some focus on "receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error" and point and say, "See? AIDS is God's judgment on gays", they miss entirely the fact that this particular sin (along with the rest of the stuff mentioned in this chapter) is a judgment of God. Its proliferation is God giving them up.

I would suggest to those who wonder when America will be judged for her blatant embrace of sin that you may have already missed it. I think the Bible indicates that the moral climate in which we are currently living is precisely a judgment from God. It is God letting go. "You want this?" He seems to ask, "You got it. And more." So we bow out of biblical relationships and values and then wonder why we continue to fall away from biblical relationships and values. We wonder, like so many, "Why would God allow this to happen?" when we are the ones departing from God. We demonstrate the biblical "blessing" and "curse". The blessing is God's face turned toward us (Num 6:24-26). The curse is God turning away, letting us go. That is God's judgment. We have arrived.

There is a cure for judgment. It is repentance. A failure to repent, according to the Romans 1 pattern, is simply more of the same, a moral collapse until society calls evil good and good evil, where we indulge evil and encourage it (Rom 1:32). You will see increases in hatred towards God and inventors of evil, foolishness and faithlessness (Rom 1:30-31). Don't be surprised. It is God's judgment, His withdrawal of support. It will not end well. It won't be pleasant. It is not unjust. And, as has always been the case, God keeps His own in His hand.


Anonymous said...

Good Morning Stan
i cant but tremble when the subject of judgment is discussed. thank God the father for Jesus the Son and his blessed atonement. i have noted that there are two parts implied here. there is the temporal judgment and the future judgment. the scary thing is; some may feel that they can endure the temporal judgment, because they are getting their own way. hey we like being sinful, thank you very much. God seems to be doing them a favor, by giving them exactly what they want. but the folly is that they are forgetting about the final judgment. they are being qualified to receive their just rewards. by giving them over to their own lust and disobedience, they are being groomed for destruction. it is short sighted of the sinner to view only the temporal judgement as just for today. all things are pointing toward the final judgment.
the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I agree -- I think God has judged America, especially when He put Obama in office. This was what American deserved, and this is when our moral compass began really spinning out of control.

David said...

I disagree Glenn. The compass spun out before Obama because he is merely a reflection of our society, not the driving force. In order for him to get there, we had to put him there. Bush 2 and Clinton were not much better and you can trace the decline preceding each president. He isn't helping, but he's not driving our moral decay, he's just pushing the bus. I know you like to vilify him, but this nation is more responsible for the decline than he is.

Stan said...

I don't think he blamed Obama. I think he recognized Obama as part of God's judgment. The point is that our moral decline as a nation is part of God's judgment ... for our moral decline as a nation. (That's the idea of "gave them up".) It is true that Obama, Bush(es), Clinton(s) and the like are not the cause. They are what God gave us as judgment.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

David, I disagree, because it was with Obama that the whole homosexual agenda got in high gear, with him opening up the military to homosexuals and all across the states all the activist judges pushed the same-sex fake marriage until SCOTUS did the Unconstitutional act. Look at the homosexual advance before and after Obama, and you will see with Obama it escalated exponentially. And along with the whole Obamacare package forcing payment of birth control, supporting abortions, and the whole transgender movement - all accelerated under Obama because he supported and promoted it all like no other president.

As Stan pointed out, my point is that Obama was our punishment because that's what our entitlement-minded culture wanted. God was essentially saying, you want it - now wallow in it. It will only go downhill from here.

David said...

I agree this is our judgment. I disagree that Obama is to blame. If the people did not want what he is peddling, it wouldn't happen. He is merely responding to the loudest voices. In the U.S., all politicians will do what they believe their people want them to do. If any president before now had suggested what he has done, they would have been raked over the coals by the people. The people now want what he has to offer, which is God's judgement. We call evil good and good evil and He has allowed us to continue down that path as judgement for our sin. I believe that God is a restraining force on sin. If it were up to Free Will, we would be far worse than we are, but God has restrained our sinfulness. It is the loosening of that restraint that is His judgement.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

God is to "blame" - Obama is the instrument of judgment giving the people what they wanted. THAT is my point.