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God’s Strange Work: The Judgments of Scripture (1)

M C Davis, Leeds

"For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth, as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act" (Is 28.21).

Introduction

God really delights to bless His creatures and to have fellowship with them, but the invasion of sin into creation has meant that He must exercise judgment, because He is not only love, but also light, absolutely holy, righteous, and good. However, a balanced view of God recognises that He planned for the fall of His creatures by foreordaining His own Son to become the Lamb of God at Calvary, so that all who humble themselves, confess their sin, and gratefully receive His salvation in Christ may enjoy His full blessing and fellowship. Simple and contrite believers in Christ find true the words of the hymn which says, "The heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind". Yes, God’s judgments are "his strange work", nor does He take any pleasure in the death of the wicked. Our God is "a consuming fire" (Heb 12.29) only to those who are persistently rebellious and unrepentant. We need to cultivate a wholesome horror of sin, like God, as well as basking in the sunshine of His love and grace in Christ. Then we shall have a truly balanced view of God, and accept His judgments without question.

There have been, and will yet be, many different judgments executed by God, either directly, or by means of various delegated agents. Scripture does not support the doctrine espoused by the traditional creed and simplistic amillennial error of one final general judgment at the end of time. When studying this subject from many Scriptures scattered throughout both Testaments we need to distinguish things that differ clearly from one another in their reference, time, and location. Therefore, we have grouped the many and various judgments into broad categories using several convenient criteria.

Worldwide Judgments

i) The Flood, Genesis 6; ii) The Great Tribulation, Revelation 6-19; iii) The final rebellion, Revelation 20; iv) The destruction of the present heavens and earth by fire, 2 Peter 3, Revelation 20.

The worldwide flood judgment in Noah’s day ended the dispensation of conscience, under which mankind had proved that they were completely depraved and ungodly, having inherited Adam’s original sin. Only eight people survived in Noah’s ark to continue the whole race.

The Tribulation of Revelation 6-19 will be a time of climactic judgments at the end of God’s day of grace and the gospel. It will be designed to discipline God’s earthly people Israel for their many sins, including the crucifixion of Christ, their Messiah, and to punish the rebellion and apostasy of mankind against God and His Christ. It will last seven years, being the last, the seventieth, week of Daniel’s prophesied seventy weeks of years to complete the discipline of Israel and bring in Christ’s Kingdom (Dan 9.24-27). The Antichrist, the first Beast of Revelation 13, the Man of Sin, will usurp power and persecute Israel and all believers. But Christ will intervene to overthrow him and his kingdom at His second coming in glory. It is to this period of tribulation that the prophecy from Isaiah 28, cited at the head of this article, refers. Many other Scriptures in both Testaments also direct attention to it. For all mankind on earth it will be a time of unparalleled suffering, designed to encourage men to repent. Some will do so, of whom many will suffer martyrdom for their faith, but most men will refuse to repent, continue to blaspheme against God, and perish eternally.

Mankind’s final rebellion at the close of the millennial Kingdom at the instigation of Satan, when he is released briefly from the bottomless pit, will prove that unsaved mankind is incorrigible; for even a thousand years of righteous and peaceful rule by Christ in an ideal environment will not have changed his sinful nature. The children of believers who entered the millennial Kingdom in their mortal bodies, having survived the Tribulation, will not all be converted, since they will still possess Adam’s sinful nature. This rebellion proves that the present heavens and earth must be destroyed and replaced by "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Pet 3.13). The latter event therefore follows immediately after the quelling of the Final Rebellion by God sending fire from heaven on the rebels.

National Judgments

i) Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19; ii) Egypt at the Exodus, Exodus 1-15; iii) The conquest of various Gentile nations by Israel, or because of their own national sins; iv) Israel’s national exiles, 2 Kings 17, 2 Chronicles 36.14-21; v) Israel’s dispersion after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, Deuteronomy 28.63-68.

God’s supernatural judgment of the wickedly immoral cities of the plain was intended to be a warning example to all who have afterwards lived in such an ungodly way (2 Pet 2.6).

At the exodus of Israel from Egypt God executed supernatural judgments against Pharaoh and all his gods to assert His own supremacy as the Lord God of His redeemed people.

In the conquest of Canaan, when many Gentile nations were destroyed, God’s chosen earthly people Israel were acting as His appointed executioners against the grossly immoral and idolatrous inhabitants of the Promised Land. No other earthly nation has ever had such a divine mandate.

Individual Judgments

i) Nadab and Abihu, Leviticus 10.1-2; ii) Korah and his associates, Numbers 16; iii) Some Old Testament false prophets and other mockers of God, 2 Kings 2.23-24, 2 Kings 7, Jeremiah 28.15-17; iv) Gehazi, 2 Kings 5; v) Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26; vi) Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5; vii) Herod, Acts 12; viii) The Beast and the False Prophet, Revelation 19.

These judgments were usually exemplary, sometimes executed at the beginning of a new era in God’s dealings with His people, and often affected those who had enjoyed great privilege but had abused it.

The Judgment of Satan and his Fallen Angels

i) At the beginning of creation in heaven, Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28; ii) At the Flood, 2 Peter 2.4, Jude v.6; iii) At the Cross of Christ, John 12.31; iv) During the war in heaven, Revelation 12; v) During the Millennium, Revelation 20; vi) After the final rebellion sent to the lake of fire, Revelation 20.

It is evident from this sequence of references and other references to Satan and his infernal hosts that the fall of Satan from heaven to the lake of fire has been, and will continue to be, gradual. In the time of Job, Satan still had some access to the heavenly court (Job 1-2). And, although Christ gained the decisive victory over him at the cross, he and his hosts remain "in the heavenlies" to war against believers of this age of grace (Eph 6.10-18). At the midpoint of the Tribulation Michael and his angels will conduct another decisive war against him in heaven, and Satan and his angels will be cast down to earth. This intensifies the power of evil present on earth during the second half of the Tribulation. At the appearing of Christ in glory an angel will imprison Satan in the bottomless pit for the duration of the millennial Kingdom. When he is released again, he will go at once to deceive the unbelieving inhabitants of the Kingdom and persuade them to rebel against Christ and His saints in Jerusalem. Then, immediately after God has defeated this rebellion, he will finally be consigned to the lake of fire to join the Beast and the False Prophet, who will have been languishing there from the time of the end of Armageddon throughout the millennial Kingdom.

To be continued.

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