Sunday, November 1, 2015

WAITING FOR GOD TO JUDGE

This particular article is an excerpt from a series of teachings on "Facing Conflict." Other chapters deal with mercy and forgiveness, which are a necessary accompaniment to this post and help the believer walk in faith, a balanced approach, and with godly attitudes during relational difficulties. While the believer must forgive and return good for evil, he still needs to be aware of the lessons taught in the following paragraphs--- that God is the Righteous Judge.      -Billy Long

God is the Righteous Judge.
Christians often have difficulty with the fact that God seems to delay in punishing those who hurt and offend us. We are glad for Him to be patient and merciful with us, but want Him to be severe and quick in rebuking others. We often refuse to forgive offenses because we feel God is too slow in administering justice. We fail to really believe He is the Righteous Judge. We think God is allowing us to suffer while our oppressors get away with impunity. But the scripture is clear— God deals with people in His own way and in His own time. Jesus was patient in His suffering because He committed Himself to the Father who judges righteously.

When we fail to recognize this, we fall prey to anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. When we really understand that God is the righteous judge, we leave room for God to deal with those who have offended us. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12: 19. We might add that He will repay when He is ready and in His time.

 God is Not Unjust Toward His Children.
Job, Jeremiah, and David felt, for a moment, that God was treating them harshly while allowing the wicked to prosper or be at ease. Elihu told Job, “…justice is before Him, and you must wait for Him. And now, because He has not punished in His anger, nor taken notice of folly, therefore, you open your mouth in vain and multiply words without knowledge.” (paraphrase of Job 35: 14-16).
Job was complaining because it appeared that God was allowing him to suffer while ignoring the foolishness and sin of others.  It can be frustrating to experience suffering while it seems the disobedient and foolish are given a “free pass” to ignore God with impunity.
Jeremiah prayed, “Lord, don’t let me die while you are being longsuffering and patient with those who oppress me.” (Jer 15: 15).  
In similar fashion David prayed, “Behold…the ungodly are at ease…but I have been… chastened every morning.(Psalm 73: 12-14).  David complained because the wicked seemed to prosper and go unpunished while he, as God’s servant, was chastised every day, and in the morning before he even had a chance to do anything bad. However, he gained understanding when he went into the Lord’s presence. There he saw the goodness, wisdom, and love of God over his life. He also saw the precariousness of the wicked who are deceptively “at ease” and unaware of their impending and inevitable judgment unless they repent. He therefore tells us not to envy the wicked who prosper. God will deal with them.

 We Must Wait for God to Judge in His Own Time.   
“When  I choose the proper time, I will judge.” Psalm 75:2
God sends judgment according to His timing after necessary processes are complete. During the interim waiting period, the innocent victim must cleanse his heart of bitterness and unforgiveness and wait patiently for God to act. He must not mistake God’s silence as absence or lack of interest. Evil men will give account to God.
“These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes.” Psalm 50:21.

Let Wheat and Tares Grow until Harvest
Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a field where an enemy sowed tares among the wheat. When the servants saw the tares they asked their master if he wanted them to gather up the tares. He replied, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will … gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” Matthew 13: 29-30

Harvest represents ripening and/or things "coming to a head." One of the weaknesses of human nature is its inability to wait on God. This is especially true in our attitude regarding people we think are deserving of punishment or correction. We must be careful how we remove “tares.” Church leadership especially needs to be spiritual, compassionate, and wise in matters of church discipline so that it does not act in an immature and unspiritual way in dealing with offenses and sin in the congregation.  To judge prematurely and recklessly is to risk pulling up wheat with the tares. Satan sows the tares in order to destroy. We must be careful not to help him by our impulsive, immature, and unwise reactions.

It takes courage to correct one another and deal with sin in the body of Christ. But it also takes wisdom, love, and maturity for it to be done properly.

Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for failing to pass judgment and deal with sexual immorality in the church (1 Cor 5), but also exhorted them to forgive and comfort the repentant one lest he be swallowed up with too much sorrow (2 Cor 2). Jesus commended the church at Ephesus for being diligent to test and judge false prophets, but also corrected them because in their zeal to judge they had left their first love (Rev 2:2-4). The church must not indulge and overlook sin, but it must also love and comfort those who repent and seek help. Peter’s exhortation speaks of God’s love and God’s call for obedience.
The Lord…is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 1 Peter 3: 9. Repentance is necessary to avoid perishing.

 Wishing the Fire Were Already Kindled
“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled.” Luke 12: 49. Jesus was aware of the iniquity and sin about Him. He knew judgment was inevitable and necessary. In sighing and crying over the abominations about us (Ezekiel 9:4), we often wish God would “kindle the fire” and deal with the rebellion of man quickly.  But like Jesus, we know judgment will come in the proper time. To accomplish the righteousness and purpose of our Heavenly Father, judgment must come in God's way, in God's time, and in the Spirit of God.

When God Arises
When God arises, issues are no longer left to the opinions of individuals. God judges and sentences based on the reality of where people and things actually are in His eyes. That which is of God will be blessed, that which is not of God will be judged. Saul and his house will fall in battle. Eli will drop over dead. The earth will open and swallow Korah and all that are with him. Shemei will face the sword of Benaiah. Alexander the coppersmith will be delivered to Satan to receive his just wages. The plaintiffs, the defendants, and the prosecuting attorneys will all have eloquently stated their cases, but God will arise to judge. All of them will be silenced together as He gives the proper and just verdict. The builders will be dwelling in the structures they have built. Then God will arise sending the storm to expose the nature of the building material down to the very foundations to test the builder and the building.

When things become muddy, cloudy, and confused, when the enemy is entrenched and embedded in the fabric and seems invulnerable to attempts at being dislodged, when the tares and the wheat grow together and you dare not attempt in the flesh to pull up tares lest you inadvertently injure and pull up wheat, it is at this time that God will arise. He will come and "bring things to a head". The Day of the Lord brings a ripening for harvest---wheat for the barn and for bread, and tares for the fire. When God arises, He manifests and approves that which is of God and that which pleases Him. He also manifests, exposes, and judges that which is not of God and that which displeases Him.