Despite the clear evidence of super-human involvement in her survival, Israel – like the vast majority of the rest of us so we can’t point fingers – ignores or rejects or outright rebels against God’s laws.
“What man…goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men. For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God. Therefore hearken unto me ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.
For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways. Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world? If he / the Singularity…gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust…
For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. For he will not lay upon man more than right; that he should enter into judgment with God.” (Job 34)
Unlike parents who cave in to temper tantrums of strong-willed children, God is not losing control. Prophecy after prophecy states that he is going to do whatever it takes to gain Israel’s cooperation as his chosen rulers.
But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel…thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities…Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified. Thy first father hath sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me. Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches.” (Isaiah 43)
True to Isaiah’s prophecy given ~750 BC, in 722 BC the Israelites were taken into captivity. Beginning 605 BC the nation of Judah was taken into captivity in stages, with the destruction of Solomon’s temple ~586 BC.
“Manasseh…did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, [made political / religious / marriage alliances with his neighbors] after the abominations of the heathen…
- For he….worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them…And he set a graven image…in the house…
- Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another…” (II Kings 21)
“The word that came to Jeremiah…the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened…Therefore…I will send…Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant…And this whole land shall be a desolation and…ye shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jeremiah 25)
Punishing Israel by cutting them out of the land given to them by the LORD their God when they forsook him was established within the Mosaic code.
Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them…The Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying…I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them… Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God…And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying, Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land…walking through this great wilderness: these forty years…until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host.” (Deuteronomy 1-2)
This first occasion of punishment on “a generation” sets the precedent for the length of the sentence. Forty years was the average remainder of the lifespan of the responsible parties, the mature adults, from age 30 and upwards, who live, on average, until seventy years of age. Punishing only one generation, like limiting a beating to 40 strokes, was established within the Mosaic code as a mercy.
“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16)
The disciples certainly had judgment in mind when they asked for signs of Jesus return from heaven to end the existing world order. The disciples’ Q&A in Matthew 24 flows directly from the documented actions in chapters 22-23 of the multitudes’ joyous acceptance of Jesus as their rightful king and the religious leader’s rejection of him followed by Jesus’ curse on Jerusalem. In that context, there can be no doubt that the disciples expected the destruction of the temple at the hands of Jesus himself in the next few days.
After all, the disciples knew their history.
“the LORD appeared to Solomon…I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually…
But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house…which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss…Because they forsook the LORD their God…” (I Kings 9:2-9)
And Jesus was repeating history.
“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna / Save we pray! to the son of David / Our rightful King!”
Did they praise God and accept Jesus as the Messiah? No.
“they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? This is a revolt against Rome!” (Matthew 21:12)
Clearly Jesus supported the multitude’s public embrace of him as their true king. The current rulers, some of whom enjoyed Rome’s political backing, and some of whom chaffed at submission to the heathen overlords, were therefore forced into taking sides.
And sure enough, the next day it is crystal clear that Jesus has thrown down the gauntlet.
No-one who encounters the Christ gets to remain neutral. There is a war going on, and anyone found in no-man’s land gets caught in the crossfire.
“Take heed, and beware…for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth…Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment….your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves…a treasure in the heavens that faileth not…For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also…Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching [not FOR his coming, but OVER his lord’s affairs]…
- Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?…
- But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day…and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
- And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
- But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.
For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required…I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled [by the importunate actions of his subordinates]?” (Luke 12)
Jesus didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk.
“when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying,
- If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?
- But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them [in outright rebellion to their authority] Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things…” (Matthew 21:23-27)
In the timeless strategy of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” a political alliance forms against this dire threat to their authority, composed of disparate groups who normally would be at odds with each other.
“Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders [respected authorities] of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.” (Matthew 26:3-4)
Like the prophets of old, Jesus did not immediately bring down judgment on Jerusalem as soon as her rulers corrupted themselves. He told the religious leaders that judgment would fall on “this generation”.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?…Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon THIS generation. ” (Matthew 23:29-36)
Jesus then reinforced this time frame for the disciples who hadn’t heard, or hadn’t immediately clued in to, what he had told the religious leaders.
“THIS generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:34)
And fulfilled it was, 40 years after the beginning of YHVH’s Savior’s ministry, with the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.
Knowing the backstory of Jesus’ statement, the disciples were surely filled with frustration. Another 40 years!
Why? For the same reason as punishment had been extended from 40 years in the Exodus to 70 years in the Exile. The transgression, the sins, the iniquity had increased. This was not a news flash, people. Exponentially increased judgment was forewarned by Moses at the very beginning of YHVH’s covenant with his people. .
“if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments…that ye break my covenant…
- I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague…ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you
- And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
- And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.
- And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things…I will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
- And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me...I will chastise you seven times for your sins.
If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me…if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.” (Leviticus 26)
Therefore, more time was needed:
- to finish the transgression,
- to make an end of sins,
- to make reconciliation for iniquity,
- to bring in everlasting righteousness,
- and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Daniel 9)
As detailed in the posts Forgiveness of Sin and Redemption and Restoration, when anyone sins, i.e. does something un-right-eous, there is a disruption in the “right-ness” of that person’s relationship / connection not only to God, but to other people and the world system, which spreads and contaminates every dimension, not just moral.
The interconnectedness of the biosphere expands the consequences of humanity’s fallen nature to the earth itself.
“The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word…The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.” (Isaiah 24:3-6, 19-20)
Can we not recognize how un-right behavior is destroying our world, and that to fix it we can’t just bemoan what others are doing but we must change our ways? If we dispose of trash in the oceans and it washes back up to our beaches and we clean it up only to dispose of it back in the ocean, what have we accomplished?
The equivalent situation occurs in relationships. Think of the effects of a married couple divorcing. There is exponential damage over time on not just on them but on their children and grandchildren and society as a whole due to the divorce limiting the parents’ ability to put time and attention and effort into not only child-rearing but positive activities in society as a whole like recycling and volunteerism. This spreads like a disease and takes exponential effort over the passing of time to restore to rightness.
Following the pattern provided by the LORD’s explanation to Ezekiel, what had come to pass by the end of the initial 70 years’ exile was that the children of the exiles, or at least a critical mass number of them, hadn’t repented and chosen to serve him. And as anyone who has experienced a broken relationship knows, a relationship can’t be restored single-handedly. Until both parties want the relationship, it won’t happen.
The End of this world doesn’t come until God’s ministers are prepared for the transition of power.
Surely we understand this on the lesser level of human government. When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, his existing staff made it possible for him to immediately take over the government. Concurrently with writing this post, President Trump has been refusing to cooperate with a peaceful transition of power. This raises serious concerns for the ability of the incoming leaders to maintain the stability of the American government.
Democrats are growing increasingly alarmed as Mr. Trump repeatedly…suggests that he might not accept the results if he loses…
“He’s clearly accelerating his effort to set up a challenge to an outcome that is unfavorable to him…”
“Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus,” Mr. Romney wrote. “Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable.”
Surely we understand that on the far more powerful spiritual plane we mere mortals need to develop our spiritual abilities. Read a few of the Dresden Files books if you are drawing a blank here.
In God’s kingdom, we are meant to transform into the likeness of our Savior by following the same process he underwent – submitting our will to the will of the Father. And it’s not any more comfortable than a drug addict trying to kick a heroin or methamphetamine habit!
It is no different from any child developing social skills and self-control through mastering self-will through ever higher levels of practice, practice, practice. As one of my son’s high school teachers explained, “You decide if you want to work at a fast food restaurant or in a profession by how you apply yourself now.” You have to give up the comforts of sleeping in, staying up late to watch captivating television programs or play video games, and partying with friends. You have to withdraw into your own wilderness to study and acceptance rejection of family and friends who resent your changes. And frankly, only a small percentage of humanity does develop increased levels of ability and knowledge we call professionalism.
I had to quit going to prayer meetings, and every time someone asks me to pray for someone’s affliction, I have to bite back my response. “Please pray for God to….” How about you personally put yourself out like take a meal, spend time comforting and exhorting the afflicted, provide some financial support? God is not a vending machine! Christianity has devolved into a Name it and Claim it magical process even by the most devout.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God…
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office…according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness…Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.” (Romans 12:1-14)
So, we are stuck on a hamster wheel until spiritual leadership muscles up.
“And Jesus answered and said unto them…all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet…(Matthew 24:6)
“Comes to pass” describes a circular wheel passing over and over again, as in a printing press. The past informs our knowledge of the future. The Savior didn’t come up with new prophecy in Matthew 24. This list of catastrophes is the standard MO of biblical chastening of God’s people, whether the geopolitical state of Israel or the international body of believers.
“Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement…then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:4-8)
Ideally, these disasters drive humans from every walk of life, not just the Jewish religious leaders, to call out to the Most High God for salvation who they learned about from those who have merged their identity with YHVH’s savior.
“Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth…I will publish the name / ways of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he…
For the LORD shall judge his people…See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward / pay back them that hate me / my name / my family.” (Deuteronomy 32)
Judgment begins at the house of God.
Let’s make sure we understand the context for “house of God.” Peter gives it right in the accompanying sentences:
- us – that would be the Apostle Peter and the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God.
- them that obey the gospel of God,
- the righteous.
That’s not rebellious Israel.
“remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now…he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us…to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace…For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit…Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” (Ephesians 2:11-22)
“These things write I unto thee…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (I Timothy 3:14-16)
Can anyone really make an argument against the house of God being the assembly of saints from all time who put their trust in YHVH / Creator and his Promised Deliver?
Crucial to this era’s understanding of the end times, the house of God is defined as a Jewish assembly / church into which Gentiles were added. Paul himself, the Apostle to the Gentiles, defines this without question when he refers to the church prior to the inclusion of Gentiles as “the church of God.”
“I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (I Corinthians 15:9)
“ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion…I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:” (Galatians 1:13)
“ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:” (I Thessalonians 2:13-15)
So what’s this judgment that starts with the Church?
As detailed in multiple posts immediately preceding this one, Moses is the primary source for all things biblical. His take on judgment is where we should start.
“And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up…Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them…
- He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
- And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
- And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
- Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Exodus 19:20, 21:1-25)
And so on. We can recognize that judgment is exactly as we understand it in “Law and Order.”
What! That’s completely against Christian doctrine! Jesus paid the price of my sin!
Death for death, yes. But Christians are not immune from obeying human laws against murder, drunk driving, theft, etc. are they? What makes you think that there are no consequences for breaking God’s laws? And in fact, scripture explicitly states that there are.
“Wherefore we / believers labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (II Corinthians 5:9-10)
The logic that Paul uses to explain that salvation by grace is different from payment for works can only be true if the reverse is also true – we get paid for our work.
“if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (Romans 11:6)
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself.” (I Corinthians 3:13-18)
“Awake to righteousness, and sin not.” (I Corinthians 15:34)
“I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
Can we not understand that salvation is not a “get out of jail free card?” Deliverance from the law of sin and death is achieved through being merged with the source of life.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk / live daily life not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law / authority, control of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death…That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:1-6)
It is a privilege to be identified with Creator God. He doesn’t take it lightly when that privilege is abused.
“if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31)
Do you really think you can get away with accepting the Son of God’s tortuous death on your behalf just to keep on sinning against God with impunity?
This perspective of salvation from sin is completely at odds with the pervasive belief that saying a prayer absolves one of all sins, including unrepented sins in which one plans to continue engaging. Do you think its OK for a pedophile’s case to be dismissed at court on his witness that “I’m a Christian, I don’t have to account for my sins anymore.”? Do you really think state court standards are higher than God’s?
I don’t think so. I’ve heard of too many cases where harden criminals took the law into their own hands when a pedophile was incarcerated with them. They didn’t think a prison sentence was punishment enough.
Sinners saved by grace still need a good lawyer.
If you’ve ever had occasion to solicit the services of an attorney at law, you understand that the primary service they give is advice. What to do, what not to do, and what to stop doing.
As our advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous doesn’t sweet talk the Father into letting us off the hook. He recounts our change of heart as demonstrated by our change of behavior.
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for…the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know / are united with him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (I John 2:1-6)
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)