Thinking Biblically About God’s Judgment…
Journey In Genesis: Selected Passages #4
Last three posts we’ve dug into Genesis and looked at:
- Peace & joy is in knowing Christ, not arranging our circumstances;
- God actively seeks sinners, He initiates every step of our salvation;
- Do we laugh with God…or at Him?
Genesis 6:5-15: “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race
had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart
was only evil all the time.
6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth,
and his heart was deeply troubled.
7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—
for I regret that I have made them.”
8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
9 This is the account of Noah and his family.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time,
and he walked faithfully with God.
10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.
12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become,
for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.
13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people,
for the earth is filled with violence because of them.
I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.
14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it
and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it…”
Before we begin, one of my goals in each sermon is to help us think…& think Biblically. Feeling can be good, but while some focus sermons/worship services
to produce a feeling (sometimes at the expense of deep thinking), my goal isn’t that;
it’s to help us think according to the Bible, trusting God to bring holy feelings
after holy thinking.
Don’t just read the Bible (what); think Biblically about the Bible (how).
What do I mean?
- I will run from a person coming at me with a knife to cut me & hurt me…
- Unless I realizethe person is a surgeon coming at me with a scalpel
to cut me & heal me.
- Oh the feelings of health that come from right-thinking about the surgeon!
- Wear sunglasses & everything is tinted;
the glasses influence your view of everything
That is my hope each Sunday (& throughout the week!):
that the LORD would teach us to think Biblically & have the Bible influence
how we look at everything. Love the Lord with all your mind, heart, soul & strength.
What is the Truth in Genesis 6? God justly judged the sinfulness of the world in the past,
and the LORD will justly judge the sinfulness of the world finally in the future.
Some church-attenders are embarrassed/angered by this in the Bible: they ignore/don’t bring it up, or cleverly explain it away & try to show that it didn’t really happen in the past & it won’t really happen in the future. We must be careful…that is what the false prophets did—they proclaimed “peace” when God said there would be exile thru Babylon (Jeremiah 6 & 8; Ezekiel 13).
So let’s look at some worldly & Biblical perspectives on God’s judgment:
Worldly perspective: “We can’t tell non-Christians about this;
it will drive them away from Jesus.”
Biblical perspective: Both the Lord Jesus & the early Christians
brought this up to non-Christians as they shared the Good News, the Gospel.
Acts 2:40: “With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
The Lord Jesus references the future judgment at least 15x in the Gospels
(not counting the 50+ other times in the rest of the New Testament)
Hebrews 6:1-3: Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ
and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of
repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,
2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead,
and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
How is God’s future & eternal judgment
part of the pre-school/kindergarten of Christianity?
Because the cross—the way we know what real love is—
simply doesn’t make sense if sin isn’t a big deal & if there wont be a final judgment
for those who aren’t covered by the cross (just as it would have made no sense
for Noah to build the ark if there wasn’t going to be a flood).
Being saved implies that we are saved from something & for something.
- Medicine can protect us from pain & death AND
- medicine can help us experience the pleasure of health & wellness.
- Protecting from & for—both are the main goals of medicine.
The cross is substitutionary; Christ didn’t just set an example for us,
He took our place, He took the punishment we deserve (Isaiah 53)—
one of us pays for our sins, either Christ Jesus or us.
God’s love saves us FROM this.
His love also saves us FOR relationship, knowing Him deeply/joyfully forever
Saving from & saving for are at the heart of Christianity—
leaving out what Christ saves us from gives people ½ a Jesus ,½ a salvation,
a 1-sided coin (which is impossible to exist).
So we celebrate the love of God thru the cross &
the love of God thru His final judgment,
what He saves us from & what He saves us for.
Again, the cross is key to thinking Biblically on this.
We’ll feel terrible if we think of God’s judgment
as Him sitting in heaven detached & uninterested,
God pushing a button to nuke humanity because He got bored/wanted excitement,
like a kid playing a cosmic video game.
But that isn’t thinking Biblically.
The Father is Personally invested in humanity (though we don’t deserve Him to be)
at the highest possible cost: the blood & death of His only Son Jesus.
The Father sent His Son to absorb the nuke for all Who trust in Him.
What more could He do to show His deep concern/compassion/mercy?
Here’s another way to think Biblically about the past flood and future judgment:
It’s estimated that it took Noah 100+ years to build the ark.
Out in the open, in front of everyone.
We have no record of anyone asking Noah or the LORD for a place on the ark.
We do know that Noah was a preacher of righteousness ( 2Peter 2:5);
over the 100+ years of building the ark, he’d have preached to the world
that they needed righteousness & forgiveness & cleansing to enter the ark,
& that the LORD alone could give it
(Noah found favor, not earned favor, in the eyes of the LORD).
But no one agreed with God’s diagnosis or cried out for His cure.
Romans 10:12-13: “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—
the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of theLord will be saved.”
Open invite to all sinners!
2 Peter 3:8-9: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.”
Why didn’t anyone ask for a place on the ark?
Same reasons people don’t trust in Christ now:
- They didn’t believe in God; or
- They believed that their god(s) would not send the flood; or
- They didn’t believe there would be a flood; or
- They trusted in their own god(s)/way of surviving the flood; or
- They didn’t agree that they deserved the flood & thus they were safe
(like kids who cover their eyes & say, “If I can’t see you you’re not really there”).
But what of those who haven ever heard about the Lord Jesus?
- Even more of a reason for all of us to spread the Gospel where we are;
- Nevertheless, no one can use not hearing the Gospel
as an excuse (Romans 1:18-32).
World’s perspective: “It’s not fair, it’s not loving, for God to judge & condemn the world.”
God’s perspective: God’s judgment stems from His loving goal
of making His children internally safe from all sin &
the world externally safe from all sin.
Revelation 21:3-5: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.
They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
The sin in us and outside of us is the cause of all suffering, my friends—
ALL suffering, from betrayal to selfishness to stinginess to unforgiveness
to physical/emotional/sexual abuse, from racism to oppression to physical slavery,
from cancer to alzheimers to death itself—
none of those things will exist in heaven…it will be completely safe.
- If it were possible toget rid of cancer forever,
the most loving thing a person could do would be to eradicate the disease
& make sure no one ever got it again.
That is what the LORD will ultimately do in His final judgment—
condemn sin itself and make a new heavens & a new earth
where future sin is not possible, where God’s children will be safe forever
from our own sin, the sin of others, and the sin of the devil.
The LORD has been loving in patiently enduring sin & sinfulness,
but He is also loving to eventually condemn sin forever &
end its ability to kill, stain, hurt, etc.
- It is loving for parents to not leave razor blades/knives lying around
for two years olds to play with.
- It would also be loving, if we could, to take away the internal foolishness
that would desire to play with the knives.
- God will do both thru His final judgment.
If a person with a deadly communicable disease wanted to serve in the nursery,
it would be right for us to not allow them to serve until they were healed.
This would be to protect the children.
This would be loving.
And so we must be forgiven before we can enter heaven,
we must be cleansed of our sin.
When we receive the Lord Jesus as our Savior & King,
our position changes immediately—
we go from guilty to innocent, our legal record is wiped clean.
And then over time, our practice changes, our actions begin to be wiped clean,
we begin to act more obediently/ faithfully,
our practice begins to match up with our position,
until we enter a new heaven with a new body to go with our new heart &
we are perfect/sinless/clean/healthy forever.
My dear friends, our current sinfulness ultimately doesn’t like God’s judgment,
but that doesn’t mean it is wrong.
The perfect LORD, pure in ways we aren’t, seeing what we can’t,
knowing what we don’t, makes decisions only He can make.
Everything He does is good, is right, is true, is loving.
His character is perfect.
Ultimately, we rest in His character that perfectly expresses itself
in all of His perfect decisions.
- His decision to send His Son to die,
- His decision to delay judgment so more will repent & be saved,
- and His ultimate decision to flush away sin and death & the old order of things through His holy judgment.
Let’s rest & trust in Him.
In a math equation, sometimes the textbook gives you the value
of one of the variables in the equation.
E.g., 3X + A = 15; A=3, solve for X.
It’s non-negotiable that A=3; the textbook has declared it.
Plugging in 3 for A is the only way to get the correct answer
& make sense of the rest of the equation.
If we don’t get the correct answer, we must go back & do our work again.
We must not decide that A doesn’t = 3,
we must not conclude that the textbook was wrong,
we must not get a different textbook & decide that A = some other value.
My friends, the Bible gives us many situations/equations to work out.
The Bible is God’s Truth, & as we grow the Holy Spirit helps us
understand, trust, agree with, enjoy, submit to & obey God’s Word.
There are elements that are difficult, & that’s to be expected—God wrote/inspired it! We‘re ants learning rocket science…some of it won’t make total sense until heaven!
(the amazing thing isn’t that we don’t understand all of it,
but that we understand any of it! Oh God is amazing to teach us His wisdom!)
But the Bible always gives us the constant value of A;
God is good, & all He does is good.
Not good according to our definition, but His.
And so if we come across any “equation” in the Bible
where it seems as if A doesn’t = that God is always good,
we must not change A, we must not determine that God is not good.
Or we must not change the equation God has given,
in this case that there will be a future final judgment of all humanity
by the Lord Jesus Christ.
We must ask the Holy Spirit to help us trust the textbook, the Bible,
- that the LORD is always good & loving,
- that the LORD will justly judge humanity,
- that those who reject the ark of Jesus Christ & His cross
will face a flood whose waters never recede,
- that the LORD will make a new heavens and a new earth that is completely safe from all sinfulness for His children—both the sin in us & the sin outside of us.
What a loving God to invest the blood of His own Son Jesus
to accomplish all that…