Why does judgment lag so far behind?

question: 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:

  1. There were three wholesale judgements of civilations:

  2. 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.

  3. 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...

  4. 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.

  5. 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...

  6. Jesus pronounces judgement on Israel (in the Olivet Discourse), which is generally considered to have been fulfilled in the Roman invasion shortly thereafter.

  7. In today's world, it is difficult to know whether God does less than, as much as, or more than He used to...we don't 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.

  8. Paul tells us that God was especially tolerant of the nations back before Christ:

    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."

  9. 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 doesn't destroy them because WE are in them...

  10. 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...


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