Why does judgment lag so far behind?
In reading Genesis chapter 38 I found that God killed two of
Judah's sons because they were evil. In previous chapters
I found stories about Judah and his brothers that would lead
me to believe that they were evil as well. Why would God
kill some evil men and not others? Also, in the Old
Testament it seems that God is much more active in punishing
sin. He killed several peolple on the Exodus. In current
times, it seems that God's stance is to be patient and allow
evil people to run their course and to give them a chance to
come to him. Why the change?
Actually, I am not sure it HAS changed much.
In the OT, the amount is judgement is actually surprizingly low, relative
to the base of population, and centers around those who are closest to
God. Consider the following facts:
- There were three wholesale judgements of civilations:
- There are other 'national'` kinds of judgement (e.g. Is 1-39) but they
are generally limited in scope and in many cases, reversible through
repentance and faith.
- Most of the judgment, however, in the OT is related to the nation of
Israel and her religious leaders. The captivity of the Israel (the
nortern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom) are cases where God
punished His chosen people--because THEY WERE SUPPOSED to know/live
better than that! (This is also seen in the treatement of the kings and
the priests--as having a special relationship to God, they were to live
better lives than others...
- It is important to note that the nation of Israel in the times of the
judges were only SLIGHTLY better (morally speaking) than the Canaanites,
yet God was patient, but punitive...and consistently allowed them to reap
the consequences of their actions.
- By the time you get to the NT, not much has changed...God kills Annias
and Sapphira (Acts 5) for lying to Him AS CHRISTIANS(!), and Paul hands
over a Christian involved in incest, to judgement in I Cor 5...
- Jesus pronounces judgement on Israel (in the Olivet Discourse), which
is generally considered to have been fulfilled in the Roman invasion
- In today's world, it is difficult to know whether God does less than,
as much as, or more than He used to...we dont have an official record of
His acts since the death of the apostles...there are believers, of
course, who will testify of God's chastisement in their lives (including
me!--cf. Heb12:7ff). And we have all seen Christian leaders who strayed
and SEEMINGLY experienced judgement in this life.
- Paul tells us that God was especially tolerant of the nations back before
We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless
things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything
in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he
has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving
you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with
plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."
- He seems to do less 'national' judgments, simply because the People of
God are NOT a nation anymore, but we are scattered throughout the nations
of the earth...and the ethics of Gen 6 and Gen 18 apply--God doesnt
destroy them because WE are in them...
- One other thing to realize here is that God is Sovereign in His
decisions about WHEN/WHERE to judge. In the case of Pharoah (in Exodus)
God could have judged him in ANY WAY and at ANY TIME for his cruelty and
stubborness in the face of the word of God. But God chose a judgement
form (the plagues and the sea pursuit) that would both 1) satisfy the
judgement issue and 2) alert others to God's power in hopes they would
respond more favorably!:
Consider Ex 9: 15
For by now I could have stretched out my hand and
struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the
earth. 16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might
show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.
God COULD HAVE destroyed Pharoah earlier, but chose a DIFFERENT FORM of
punishement that would serve the ends of GETTING THE MESSAGE OUT to others!
So even the timing/use/form of judgement serves God's plans somehow..
hope this helps some...
The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.Christianthinktank.com]