Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Some Thoughts to Clarify the Previous Two Posts

A good friend presented some questions after my last two posts. Below are some thoughts to help clarify some of the points I discussed.

I have re-read my recent posts dealing with God’s judgment, and I am comfortable with what I what I presented, given the context in which it is given.

The first motivating thought in my post is that there is a God, as opposed to the Atheist who thinks God does not exist and that He is irrelevant to earth’s events, and as opposed to the deist who thinks God simply walked off and left us to ourselves. There is a God who manages the affairs of earth, and we must acknowledge and call upon Him.

When I say “nothing is out of His control” I am saying that nothing is “out of control,” that is, God is not helplessly standing by watching.

I would not make a blanket statement saying bad weather is God’s judgment. The weather is like everything else in life, some of it is good, some of it is bad, some of it is a blessing from God, some of it is an attack from the devil, some of it is Divine judgment, and some of it is simply mystery. I do not say that people who are experiencing bad things are being judged (See my “Icy Hot” post), although sometimes bad things do indicate reaping and judgment. But I would also add that sometimes bad things happen to innocent people like Job. But we should not be afraid to face the fact that God does at some point send judgment on iniquity.

Life is too complex to blame everything on God or on the devil. Discernment and compassion are necessary before we start making presumptions and judgments about other people. But I do feel that our nation is headed into judgment unless there is a national repentance or a sufficient amount of intercessors to stand in the gap  (Gen 18:16-33; Ezekiel 22: 30).

The kindness of God leads us to repentance. That is God’s first approach, and He is patient and longsuffering with His kindness. But when we do not respond to His kindness, there does come a time when He disciplines His children to help them along (See “Goodness and Severity of God” post). There also comes a time when the judgment of God does fall on a nation or people when iniquity reaches its fullness.

My opinion is that we would be a bit arrogant to think that our nation does not deserve judgment. It is this awareness of potentially impending judgment that awakens and stirs the intercessors to arise, pray, and stand in the gap. If we see no potential for judgment, then we see no urgent need to “sigh and cry because of the abominations” as Ezekiel said in chapter 9.

I believe in the “Goshen principal” (Exodus 10: 22-23; Zephaniah 2: 3) in which God hides and protects His people. I pray that my household and God’s people will live in “Goshen” in the days ahead. But I think also that there are times that the righteous may suffer to some degree along with the rest when judgments fall on a nation. Daniel and Ezekiel both were taken into captivity with Israel; and there must have been some righteous people in Israel who went into captivity with the others. If an economic crisis hits our nations, we will all feel it, including the church. Although, I think the church should ask for and believe for the “Goshen” experience.

I do see pestilence, sword, famine, etc as instruments of God’s judgment in scripture, and that He used them on Israel and other nations.

I think a “plague” can be a judgment on a nation in a general sense, but not necessarily on the individuals. For instance, an epidemic of AIDS might be judgment on a nation in general as a result of its rampant promiscuity, but not necessarily a judgment on every individual with AIDs since many innocent people have contracted the disease.

The “Euroclydon” post speaks to the same audience in our nation that Amos or Joel spoke to in their books. So I do believe God sends judgments, and I do believe sin will bring judgments. But I don’t believe everything bad is a judgment of God. I do think the topic is too complex to cover all the bases in a short post.


Lonnie Shields said...

Thanks for the clarification in this blog, Billy. I know the challenge of addressing a complex subject in a limited format...
Let me toss just a few more thoughts into the hopper. As I read the New Testament, I find lots of references to “the day of the Lord” and “the day of judgment”. I don’t find lots of references to “judgment” falling on people or nations on a regular basis. I wonder if we can bring that stuff from the Old Testament into the New, or if there’s a new system that is in place now. He did talk about not imputing their sins to them...
When I look at what Jesus preached, it was “Repent for the Kingdom is at hand!” Then He demonstrated what the Kingdom looked like by healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the multitudes, calming storms, etc. He certainly could have been calling down judgment on the Roman empire as it was far more corrupt than our nation today. He could even have called for judgment on Israel, as they were certainly being led by corrupt people - but his focus was on “bringing heaven to earth” (as he taught us to pray - “your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!)
I have sat under a lot of “If my people who are called by my name...” preaching, and frankly, I haven’t seen it produce anything but hopelessness and helplessness. “I’ve repented of everything I can think of! Is that enough? I’ve done identificational repentance for the nation repeatedly - is that enough?” They’re focused on avoiding judgment rather than on loving their neighbors into the Kingdom. On the other hand, when unbelievers see the power of God bring healing to their bodies, and they hear that God loves them and will forgive them if they will repent, I’ve seen some real change come to lives...
So, for me, even though the message of judgment may be true, I haven’t found it to be a particularly Scriptural (in the light of the New Testament) or profitable message. Waddyathink?


Billy Long said...

Lonnie, this is just a quick response to one of your points. Jesus actually did warn the nation of Israel of judgments to come. See Luke 13: 34-35 and Luke 19:41-45 This judgment started in 70 AD when the Roman’s besieged Jerusalem and destroyed it. The Jews were dispersed from Jerualem around 135 AD.
Also in Rev 1-4 Jesus tells the churhes to "Repent or I will come and remove your candlestick."
This is a short response. I'll try to say more later.

jenniecompton@gmail.com said...

Well said Billy. Again, I think you have captured the heart of the Lord.