Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Removing Scales From Eyes

Properly Re-Setting the Chess Board

The doctrine of divine judgement occupies most of the revelation of Holy Scripture.  Measured by volume of content, the major subject concerns God's wrath upon sin and sinners.  One imagines the reason for this is that God is holy and righteous: evil must be punished.  His purity and holiness demand it.

From the time that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, God's judgement upon sin looms large in the Bible's unfolding story.  Yet it is a truth which many Christians, particularly modern evangelical Christians, would struggle to acknowledge, let alone reverently accommodate in their doctrinal house.

Just to reinforce the point, we would remind ourselves of the Deluge upon the entire human race, apart from Noah and his family; of the plagues upon Egypt; of the judgement upon Israel in the desert where a whole generation perished because of their unbelief and loyalty to idols.  We would go on to refer to Sodom and Gomorrah--which became an abiding symbol for God's holy wrath upon extreme evil, including sin associated with homosexual lust and rape.  We would recite God's judgement upon the Canaanites, the Amalekites, the Edomites, the Moabites.  We would refer to the prophets from Elijah onwards whose primary obligation was to warn Israel and the surrounding nations of the judgements of God about to fall.  We would meditate upon the fortunes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the ten lost tribes.  We would think of the Imprecatory Psalms (rarely read by Christians today).  We would think of the recorded writings of the major and minor prophets which are primarily focused upon the judgements of God upon Israel and the surrounding nations.  The accounts and the warnings go on for pages and pages, chapter after chapter.

Ah, but the New Testament-well, yes, that's different. We live in "Gospel days".
  We remember hearing of a lady who announced that whilst in the Old Testament, God was all gore and blood, in the New Testament He became a Christian.  Suddenly, all was love, joy, mercy and tolerance.  What a blasphemous wretched half-truth!

The pre-cursor to Jesus was God's appointed herald, John the Baptist.  He came warning of a judgement about to fall, calling the nation of Israel to repentance--a judgement which fell thirty-five years later, so severe and devastating that even to this day it is hard to describe, let alone comprehend.  John--as the herald of Jesus--proclaimed that Jesus was the Light of the World. John said that he himself was "the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."  (John 1: 23).  When the Pharisees and others came to sight-see he solemnly warned them:
He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” [Luke 3: 7-14]

When Jesus was speaking with Nicodemus, He said He had come into the world to save it from its sins.  But His coming was in its very essence a judgement.  He declared:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. [John 3: 16-21]
In Romans 11, Paul delivered a solemn warning to us Gentiles who have turned to the Lord Jesus Christ.  He said that the Jewish people were the "natural branches" of God's beloved olive tree.  But the natural branches were cut off because of their unbelief, and the Gentiles replaced them, grafted in to God's special mercies.  But then comes the warning:
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant towards the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. [Romans 11: 17-20]
In the previous post, Douglas Wilson asked a rhetorical question, yet one which I think most contemporary Christians in the West would struggle to answer. 
What on earth makes us think that God has been influenced by our doctrines of secularism? Why do we believe that He who slapped down the Assyrians for their cruelty would think twice because He is dealing with Americans now?
Modern Western Christians appear to live in a bed of ease--at least theologically.  They have no concept of God's judgement falling upon the Church for its Unbelief.  Secondly, they have drunk deeply of the Western world's arrogance and pride about itself--that we belong to the best, the brightest, the noblest, the most erudite and righteous generation of human beings ever to inhabit this planet.

When we are confronted with modern Assyrians, such as the predatory behaviour of the mujahadeen of ISIS, we are all agog and aghast at their cruelty, their ignorance, their barbarity, their "scumminess".  This serves to reinforce the false belief that we, by contrast, are not cruel, not ignorant, not barbaric.  We are better (along with all the Unbelieving culture about us).

But, consider this--which creates the bigger stench in the nostrils of God: the depredations of ISIS, or the sodomy and murder of infants now celebrated throughout the West?  Both alike are evil.  Yet why do we look for God's judgement to fall upon ISIS, but not the West?  Is God to be thus mocked by us?

If ever there were a time to meditate carefully upon the words of our Lord's Apostle, it is now:  "so do not become proud, but fear."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A fearful "AMEN"