Thursday, June 19, 2008

God's Judgment - New Testament Examples



When we last spoke of God's judgment, we asked the question of whether God judged individuals and nations directly in the New Testament era. I'd like to take a look at a few instances and then comment briefly.

First, we have the example of Ananias and Sapphira . . .

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him. Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.” And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things (Acts 5:1-11).

In this example, Ananias and Sapphira were both struck dead. The purpose of this act of judgment was twofold - to discipline the erring couple severely, and to teach the early church a lesson. Remember the reasons for signs and wonders in the days of the Apostles and the early church -- to glorify God and confirm the Word, as well as to confirm that the Apostles spoke for the Lord.

Next, we have a warning from the Apostle Paul about improper handling of the Lord's Supper . . .

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).

This example is interesting to me. It is obvious from the context that the people mentioned were judged and disciplined because of their irreverent manner of taking communion. Was this something that only happened in the early church? Does it happen today? Good question. It ought to be asked. I know that there are plenty who do not take the Lord's Supper seriously, including letting toddlers partake because they begin whining and throwing a temper tantrum.

What about divine judgment in the form of natural disasters? In Old Testament times, when God sent calamity on a nation -- whether in the form of flood, disease or war -- there was generally a prophet of God around to warn the people of impending judgment. And it was generally for a specific reason given by the prophet. Do we see that today? Do we know of a direct case where a modern day prophet of God warned a city, state or nation that judgment was around the corner for their sin, and it happened as prophesied? Remember, the biblical test of a true prophet is 100 percent accuracy. You aren't allowed to "revise and extend" your prophecies.

We do see plenty of calamity in the Apostle John's book of Revelation. These calamities are around the end-times, and are largely directed toward the worshippers and followers of the Antichrist.

I generally believe that the world is under a period of grace, where people -- and the nations in which they live -- are being given a lot of room to repent. Or rope to hang themselves. That doesn't mean that God won't intervene in a nation, or in the lives of individuals. Someone's life of sin might well lead to their destruction. The actions of a nation might well lead to the destruction of that nation, or at least serious calamity. But before we call such events a direct judgment of God, we'd best be very, very careful. I can speculate. I can even make a very good educated guess. But I don't know for certain.

Unless there is direct revelation of the Holy Spirit, let's not put words into His mouth. As my prior commenters pointed out, so much can be the consequence related to God's general judgment and curse of a fallen world. Death happens. Disease happens. Weather happens. God is sovereign and allows things for a purpose. Did He allow the Midwest floods because of America's sin? Is He allowing the rash of tornadoes because of America's sin? It's possible. But remember, there are plenty of believers who suffer along with those who aren't believers.

Remember, in the Old Testament book of Daniel, there were four young men named Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who got hauled off to Babylon. Israel was faithless, but these four were faithful. Yet they got hauled off to Babylon too. Again, in that case, Israel's calamity was prophesied. I can't say that the recent disasters in America were prophesied.

It's a tough issue, and one which we should approach with great care.

7 comments:

John said...

"..so much can be the consequence related to God's general judgment and curse of a fallen world. Death happens. Disease happens. Weather happens. God is sovereign and allows things for a purpose. Did He allow the Midwest floods because of America's sin? Is He allowing the rash of tornadoes because of America's sin? It's possible. But remember, there are plenty of believers who suffer along with those who aren't believers. "

Good series and post. I agree that these disasters are a part of the curse, and that God is in control of them all in His sovereignty.

Indeed believers and non-believers suffer in these events. I believe that Christ died to remove the eternal penalty of sin. He brings eternal salvation and forgiveness. Obviously this doesn't make Christians exempt from suffering in this world. Since we all continue to sin, can God not judge us temporally although Christ has paid the eternal debt?

Here's an OT example. Moses was obviously a child of God, but he died on the mountain before entering the promised land. Though he was eternally secure, his sin was still judged. And I don't think that it being in the OT makes a difference here. When talking about individuals we are all saved through Christ.

Phil Perkins said...

Actually, it isn't all that hard. Why is it that we look so hard for what isn't in Scripture? Why would we even suspect God's drastic physical judgment ended after the Old Covenant when it started long before the Old Covenant? Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? Why are we hoping God has changed?

It is only in this effeminate generation that God's judgment has been challenged in the so-called church so broadly and by so many. Is it not obvious why it's so necessary for this very sinful generation of churchmen to doubt what the Scripture clearly teaches about God's acts of judgment? It's hard for the Oprah-god of modern Evangelicalism to be pictured as vengeful, isn't it? Read Revelation 14:9-12 or Romans 9 to see just how much our God is a consuming fire. In Romans we're taught that God has predestined some to perdition in order to demonstrate His great wrath and power and some to glory in order to demonstrate His great mercy and love. See 9:22 and following.

Read what Jesus said in Luke 13:
Luke 13:1-5 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

Ask yourselves this: Why are you even looking for God to change between the Old and New Covenants? Or this: Why is this new teaching so absent from the history of those groups of churchmen who were orthodox, only appearing among heretics? Read the OT. The false prophets often had the true killed for suggesting that God's judgment will come.

So not only will God's judgment come today, but those who deny this truth were present under the Old Covenant. What was a lie then is still a lie today. Sinfulness includes the suppression of the truth in unrighteousness.

Nothing has changed.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

Solameanie said...

Phil,

You might have misunderstood me. I certainly believe God judges today, and there is a coming final judgment where those who have rejected Christ will receive eternal punishment.

My larger point was that in the OT, you had prophets sounding out specific warnings and prophecies about the judgment to come. For instance, let's say I was a prophet today. I would have a word from the Lord that an invasion was coming and that America would be trampled underfoot by her enemies for 50 years. See what I mean? We don't have that kind of prophetic pronouncement today.

Judgment is indeed coming. But unless someone has a specific word from the Lord about a particular event, it's hard for me to say it's God's judgment for a specific thing.

Hope that makes sense.

Phil Perkins said...

Yes, Sola, I think we are on the same page. I just believe we are under a Sovereign God and He has demonstrated His wrath throughout history. Nothing happens He has not decreed. Being that we are sinful and He is holy, it is biblical to assume that God's sovereign control of nature will still include killing many of us to cleanse His universe of evil.

In Christ,
Phil Perkins.

Anonymous said...

Phil are you serious!? What has changed?? ummm Jesus? If you honestly think that heaven has not changed its attitude towards earth because of the New covenant you scare me!

Why did Jesus come? Wasn't it to seek and save the lost? So the son is trying to save people while the Father is killing them?

If you've seen Jesus, you've seen the Father. Christ was a perfect representation. So study His life. How may storms did He bless. None. In fact he only calmed them. Those who wanted to bring down judgement in he rebuked saying you do not know what spirit you are of.

Solameanie said...

Anonymous, I wouldn't put it in the way that you did i.e. the Father is killing people while the Son is trying to save them. That's oversimplifying a bit. The Father and the Son (and the Holy Spirit) are one and there is no division in them in terms of their will, purpose etc.

The Father indeed sent the Son to save His people from their sins, but that doesn't negate the fact that God will still inflict judgment on individuals and nations. The final judgment against sin will be terrible. The mercy of God is that He is giving the world time to repent before judgment falls.

Anonymous said...

Solameanie, i agree, God will bring judgement - on that great and terrible day. Sometimes things need to be put simply for those like Phil Perkins who can't see why Jesus came and what epic season we are in right now. Not the great and terrible day - but great and glorious. i.e, He is giving the world a chance to repent.

If they are of no division like you state, then my point still stands for those who think otherwise.

How is Jesus today saving but the Father is judging with earthquakes that kill people like that we have experienced here in my country (NZ). The Father doing one thing, the son doing another. Could it be possible that the Father isn't, and things like earthquakes are signs of an old earth.

Why does Phil Perkins read into current events with Old Covenent eyes?

How do i tell the Mother whose baby was crushed to death by their falling TV, that the Fathers love for her is so great He sent His son - But at the same time, He also caused an earthquake that killed her only son.

Its the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.

wesley (anonymous)