TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth Edition

I.  Basics

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Chapter 10  Part I

Basics

The fact that God does and will judge us is one of the Bible’s key teachings, without which the significance of other key Bible teachings is lost – notably that of salvation. An understanding of it is also vital to understanding God himself. Additionally, bear in mind that God’s judgment – being just and righteous – actually gives his people much reason to be encouraged.

God Is the Judge of the World

God is judge . . .

Ps 50:6  The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah ▤ 

Ps 75:7  … but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. ▤ 

Deut 1:17a  You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God’s. ▤ 

Ultimately judgment belongs to God. As such, when making judgments, judges are in a real sense “judging in the place of God” (NLT).

Judg 11:27  I therefore have not sinned against you, and you do me wrong by making war on me. The Lord, the Judge, decide this day between the people of Israel and the people of Ammon. ▤ 

The Lord is “the Judge” – the one to whom judgment ultimately belongs.

John 8:50  Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. ▤ 

Heb 12:23b  … to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, … ▤ 

James 4:12  There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? ▤ 

God is being spoken of here (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT).

Dan 7:9-10  As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. 10A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. ▤ 

This depicts God taking his seat (v. 9) as the supreme judge in the heavenly court, to judge the figures or kingdoms in question (cf. vv. 3-8), whose deeds have been recorded in the books that were opened (v. 10).

Ps 82:1  God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: … ▤ 

The phrases “the divine council” and “in the midst of the gods” appear to portray angelic beings surrounding God’s throne as he begins to make judgment, as the supreme judge.

. . . God is the judge of the whole earth

See also:

Gen 18:25  Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? ▤ 

This is part of Abraham’s appeal to God to spare the righteous amidst the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah from looming judgment.

Ps 94:2  Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve! ▤ 

1Sam 2:10  The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the powerf of his anointed. ▤ 

f Hebrew horn

Ps 58:11  Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.” ▤ 

Ps 98:9  … before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity. ▤ 

Jer 25:29b  You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, declares the Lord of hosts. ▤ 

The reference is to God’s judgment of other nations of Jeremiah’s time.

God makes judgments in the world

1Chr 16:12, 14  Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered, ▤ 14He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. ▤ 

Although we may still long for God’s judgment on certain matters, the Bible asserts that God does make judgments in the world in the present time – the extent of which we will not know in this life.

Ps 7:11  God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. ▤ 

With the preceding description of God as a “righteous judge”, the latter part of this verse may have in view God expressing his wrath in judgment every day (cf. CEV, NIV).

Ps 48:10-11  As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with righteousness. 11Let Mount Zion be glad! Let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of your judgments! ▤ 

Ps 75:8  For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs. ▤ 

God’s judgment is pictured as a cup of wine (cf. Jer 25:15-16 ) – “foaming” and “well mixed”, i.e. very potent.

Ps 76:8-9  From the heavens you uttered judgment; the earth feared and was still, 9when God arose to establish judgment, to save all the humble of the earth. Selah ▤ 

Isa 26:9b  For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. ▤ 

Gen 6:7, 13, 17  So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” ▤ 13And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,g for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. ▤ 17For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. ▤ 

g Hebrew The end of all flesh has come before me

God judges nations

Ps 7:8a  The Lord judges the peoples … ▤ 

Ps 110:6  He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefsh over the wide earth. ▤ 

h Or the head

Isa 2:4  He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. ▤ 

The end of the age is in view here.

Isa 34:5  For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom, upon the people I have devoted to destruction. ▤ 

Note that the first clause may be referring to either: God’s “sword” or means of judgment being prepared in heaven (cf. AMP, GNT); the appearance of this “sword” in the skies (cf. CEV text note), ready to descend; or the fate of the skies in the end times.

Isa 63:6  I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth. ▤ 

Jer 25:15-16, 31-32  Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. 16They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.” ▤ 31The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the Lord has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, declares the Lord.’ 32“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, disaster is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth! ▤ 

Jer 51:9, 56  We would have healed Babylon, but she was not healed. Forsake her, and let us go each to his own country, for her judgment has reached up to heaven and has been lifted up even to the skies. ▤ 56for a destroyer has come upon her, upon Babylon; her warriors are taken; their bows are broken in pieces, for the Lord is a God of recompense; he will surely repay. ▤ 

Joel 3:2, 12-13  I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, ▤ 12Let the nations stir themselves up and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. 13Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for their evil is great. ▤ 

Here and in the following two passages, God’s final judgment appears to be ultimately in view.

Obad 1:15-16  For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head. 16For as you have drunk on my holy mountain, so all the nations shall drink continually; they shall drink and swallow, and shall be as though they had never been. ▤ 

Zeph 3:8  “Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed. ▤ 

God judges individuals – including rulers

See also:

Ezek 33:20b  O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways. ▤ 

Ps 7:8  The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. ▤ 

Here David asks God to vindicate him by his judgment (cf. NASB).

Ps 75:7  … but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. ▤ 

Isa 66:16  For by fire will the Lord enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the Lord shall be many. ▤ 

This has in view judgment of the wicked in the end times – either at the beginning of a millennium (cf. the introductory comments on Jesus Christ’s Universal Rule, and its first subsection, Prelude: The thousand years) or in God’s final judgment.

Heb 12:23b  … to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, … ▤ 

Gen 4:9-12  Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” ▤ 

Gen 31:53  The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac, … ▤ 

Acts 13:10-11  … and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. ▤ 

Job 21:22  Will any teach God knowledge, seeing that he judges those who are on high? ▤ 

The phrase “those who are on high” refers to authorities (cf. CEV), or at least individuals with great influence or importance. Possibly “the angels in heaven” (NIrV®) are in view.

Isa 24:21  On that day the Lord will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth. ▤ 

Dan 4:31-33  While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws. ▤ 

Dan 5:24-28, 30  “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 26This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numberedi the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27Tekel, you have been weighedj in the balances and found wanting; 28Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” ▤ 30That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. ▤ 

i Mene sounds like the Aramaic for numbered

j Tekel sounds like the Aramaic for weighed

k Peres (the singular of Parsin) sounds like the Aramaic for divided and for Persia

Rev 6:15-17  Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slavel and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” ▤ 

l Or servant; Greek bondservant

God judges his own people

See also:

Deut 33:21  He chose the best of the land for himself, for there a commander’s portion was reserved; and he came with the heads of the people, with Israel he executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments for Israel. ▤ 

Ps 50:4-5  He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: 5“Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!” ▤ 

God judged his people according to his covenant with them, reflected in this psalm by his implied criticism and exhortations to the people in general (cf. vv. 7-15); and his stinging attack and threat of destruction to the wicked amongst them (cf. vv. 16-23).

Isa 3:14  The Lord will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: “It is you who have devouredm the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses. ▤ 

m Or grazed over; compare Exodus 22:5

Isa 33:22  For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; he will save us. ▤ 

The OT concept of “judge” encompassed other governing roles besides just judicial functions, as is arguably alluded to by this verse.

Ezek 20:35-36  And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. 36As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord God. ▤ 

Ezek 34:20-22  Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22I will rescuen my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. ▤ 

n Or save

Heb 10:30  For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” ▤ 

A reference in v. 27 to the fearful judgment awaiting apostates, implies that the final judgment is primarily in view here (as is the case with the following reference).

James 2:12-13  So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ▤ 

Here “the law” may well be referring to ‘the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”’ (v. 8), or the law or teachings of the second covenant – including Jesus’ teaching and the OT as interpreted by the NT. Although it is a law that sets us free rather than being a burden to obey, by the same token judgment by such a law will be more demanding.

God judges evil spiritual powers

Gen 3:14-15  The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspringo and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” ▤ 

o Hebrew seed; so throughout Genesis

This serpent that tempted Eve (cf. vv. 1-7) is generally considered to be representative of or even a manifestation of Satan. As such, the judgment of it and the implications for its “offspring” appears to have an application to Satan and evil powers.

1Tim 3:6  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. ▤ 

The reference to the condemnation of the devil most likely is speaking of facing the same judgment as the devil does. Another interpretation is that it is referring to falling from a high position just as the devil is understood to have done.

Rev 20:10  … and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. ▤ 

Isa 24:21  On that day the Lord will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth. ▤ 

Evil spiritual powers are in view in the first part of this verse.

2Pet 2:4  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hellp and committed them to chainsq of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; … ▤ 

p Greek Tartarus

q Some manuscripts pits

Evil angels are spoken of here and in Jude 1:6 below.

Jude 1:6  And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day ▤ 

  • God’s judgment on the Egyptian gods:

Num 33:4  … while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them. On their gods also the Lord executed judgments. ▤ 

The “judgments” on the Egyptian gods may in part at least have in view God striking down the firstborn of all the Egyptians. For the writer may have meant that in striking such a telling blow on the Egyptians, the Lord proved the uselessness of their gods. Alternatively he may have simply meant that such a punishment was a judgment on the Egyptians and in a sense on the supposed gods that they trusted in.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Reasons for God’s Judgment

To punish sin and unfaithfulness

See also:

Dan 9:11  All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. ▤ 

Isa 13:11  I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. ▤ 

Heb 10:26-27  For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. ▤ 

Rev 18:5, 8  … for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. ▤ 8For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her. ▤ 

Jer 1:16  And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands. ▤ 

Ezek 17:20  I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there for the treachery he has committed against me. ▤ 

2Chr 24:24  Though the army of the Syrians had come with few men, the Lord delivered into their hand a very great army, because Judahr had forsaken the Lord, the God of their fathers. Thus they executed judgment on Joash. ▤ 

r Hebrew they

Joash was king of Judah and was responsible for it forsaking God.

Hos 6:5, 7  Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. ▤ 7But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me. ▤ 

To discipline and cleanse God’s people

See also:

1Cor 11:28-32  Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.s 31But if we judgedt ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplinedu so that we may not be condemned along with the world. ▤ 

s Greek have fallen asleep (as in 15:6, 20)

t Or discerned

u Or when we are judged we are being disciplined by the Lord

1Pet 4:16-17  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? ▤ 

The judgment of the family of God (v. 17) apparently refers to the persecution that believers were experiencing (v. 16), a form of disciplinary or purifying judgment.

Isa 4:3-4  And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, 4when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.v ▤ 

v Or purging

The term “spirit of judgment” (v. 4) alludes to actual judgment (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NIrV), cleansing Jerusalem of wickedness. This judgment would lead to the cleansing of God’s people as a whole (cf. Ezek 20:36, 38 ).

Ezek 20:36, 38  As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord God. ▤ 38I will purge out the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against me. I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord. ▤ 

Such purging of the rebellious from amongst God’s people (v. 38) – by his judgment (v. 36) – was a cleansing of the people.

Mal 3:1-5  Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.w 4Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. 5“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. ▤ 

w Or and they will belong to the Lord, bringers of an offering in righteousness

This seems to be speaking of God judging his people (v. 5a), through Jesus Christ on his return (vv. 2-4). By this judgment God will purify his people (vv. 2b-3), dealing with all living among them who do evil (v. 5). Note that in referring to “the Lord”, 1 Corinthians 11:28-32 above is probably also speaking of judgment by Jesus Christ.

  • God’s judgments teach people to live rightly:

Isa 26:9b  For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. ▤ 

To punish the ungodly . . .

See also:

Jer 25:31  The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the Lord has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, declares the Lord. ▤ 

Ezek 7:3  Now the end is upon you, and I will send my anger upon you; I will judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations. ▤ 

2Pet 2:9  … then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,x and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, … ▤ 

x Or temptations

This can be interpreted as either: meaning that God persistently punishes such unrighteous people even prior to judgment day; or as speaking of them being kept for their ultimate punishment – spiritual death – to be pronounced on judgment day.

2Pet 3:7  But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. ▤ 

Isa 3:14  The Lord will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: “It is you who have devouredy the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses. ▤ 

y Or grazed over; compare Exodus 22:5

Ps 94:2  Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve! ▤ 

. . . and to exact just vengeance

See also:

Rev 19:2  … for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”z ▤ 

z Greek bondservants; also verse 5

The reference is to the symbolic Babylon (cf. The guilt and consequent judgment of “Babylon the Great”).

Deut 32:35, 41  Vengeance is mine, and recompense,a for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.’ ▤ 41if I sharpen my flashing swordb and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and will repay those who hate me. ▤ 

a Septuagint and I will repay

b Hebrew the lightning of my sword

1Sam 24:12  May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. ▤ 

2Ki 9:7  And you shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord. ▤ 

Jer 11:20  But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause. ▤ 

Jer 51:11, 24, 36-37  Sharpen the arrows! Take up the shields! The Lord has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance for his temple. ▤ 24“I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea before your very eyes for all the evil that they have done in Zion, declares the Lord. ▤ 36Therefore thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will plead your cause and take vengeance for you. I will dry up her sea and make her fountain dry, 37and Babylon shall become a heap of ruins, the haunt of jackals, a horror and a hissing, without inhabitant. ▤ 

Joel 3:2, 19  I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, ▤ 19“Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the people of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. ▤ 

Rom 12:19  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave itc to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” ▤ 

c Greek give place

To save God’s people

Ex 6:6  Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. ▤ 

1Sam 24:15  May the Lord therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand. ▤ 

Ps 76:8-9  From the heavens you uttered judgment; the earth feared and was still, 9when God arose to establish judgment, to save all the humble of the earth. Selah ▤ 

The “humble of the earth” appears to refer to the “oppressed of the earth” (GNT, NKJV, NRSV), although the “humble” (NASB) or the afflicted amongst God’s people (cf. NIrV) may primarily be in view.

Isa 34:8  For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. ▤ 

The final clause encompasses God’s salvation or defense of his people (cf. CEV, GNT; Jer 51:36 ).

Ezek 34:20-22  Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22I will rescued my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. ▤ 

d Or save

God would make judgments concerning the powerful and weak among his people (his “flock”). He would thus save his flock from the powerful among them who mistreated the others.

Dan 7:21-22  As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom. ▤ 

Ps 36:6  Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. ▤ 

Note that God’s people are not exclusively in view in this verse and Isaiah 51:5 below.

Isa 51:5  My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait. ▤ 

To vindicate God’s people

1Ki 8:32  … then hear in heaven and act and judge your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing his conduct on his own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding him according to his righteousness. ▤ 

Jer 51:9-10  We would have healed Babylon, but she was not healed. Forsake her, and let us go each to his own country, for her judgment has reached up to heaven and has been lifted up even to the skies. 10The Lord has brought about our vindication; come, let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God. ▤ 

Deut 32:36  For the Lord will vindicatee his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free. ▤ 

e Septuagint judge

God’s judgment, in favor of his people, may be in view here in association with his vindication of his people, as suggested by the alternative rendering in the text note (cf. NIV, NKJV, NLT). Note that the latter part of the verse may well have the exile in view.

Ps 9:4  For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment. ▤ 

The upholding of one’s “just cause” is indicative of vindication.

Ps 58:10-11  The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked. 11Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.” ▤ 

Verse 1 speaks of the vindication before others of God’s righteous people, established by God’s judgment (v. 10).

Mic 7:8-9  Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. 9I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication. ▤ 

Zion recognizes her suffering from her enemy is for her sin. But she expresses confidence that God will execute judgment for her and against her enemy – freeing and vindicating her.

Mal 3:16-18  Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. 17“They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. ▤ 

By God in his judgment (v. 17) making such a “distinction between the righteous and the wicked” (v. 18), the righteous will be vindicated with their ways proven right. Note that God’s final judgment appears to be in view.

To reward God’s people

See also:

As well as punishment for wrongdoing, God’s judgment includes reward for godliness.

Rom 2:5-10  But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6He will render to each one according to his works: 7to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8but for those who are self-seekingf and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. ▤ 

f Or contentious

2Thes 1:5  This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— ▤ 

Rev 11:18  The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants,g the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth. ▤ 

g Greek bondservants

Jer 17:10  “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind,h to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” ▤ 

h Hebrew kidneys

  • Jesus Christ will judge and reward God’s people at the last judgment:

2Tim 4:8  Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. ▤ 

Note: God’s judgments serve as examples and warnings to others

2Pet 2:6  … if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;i … ▤ 

i Some manuscripts an example to those who were to be ungodly

1Cor 10:6-11  Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christj to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. ▤ 

j Some manuscripts the Lord

Ezek 14:7-8  For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, I the Lord will answer him myself. 8And I will set my face against that man; I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the Lord. ▤ 

Any such person who forsook God would be made “a sign” in the sense that the judgment inflicted on him would be an example and warning to others.

Num 16:35-40  And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men offering the incense. 36 k Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 37“Tell Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest to take up the censers out of the blaze. Then scatter the fire far and wide, for they have become holy. 38As for the censers of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, let them be made into hammered plates as a covering for the altar, for they offered them before the Lord, and they became holy. Thus they shall be a sign to the people of Israel.” 39So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burned had offered, and they were hammered out as a covering for the altar, 40to be a reminder to the people of Israel, so that no outsider, who is not of the descendants of Aaron, should draw near to burn incense before the Lord, lest he become like Korah and his company—as the Lord said to him through Moses. ▤ 

k Ch 17:1 in Hebrew

Some of the people had challenged the authority of Moses and Aaron – including some Levites who counter to God’s law were trying to assume the priesthood in addition to their established duties (cf. vv. 8-10). As such they had treated the Lord with contempt (cf. v. 30). Consequently they were punished (v. 35; cf. vv. 28-33; Num 26:9-10 ). The guilty Levites had been using censers to burn incense (a role of the priests) at the time of the punishment (v. 35). These were to be refashioned and used as a sign (v. 38) and reminder (v. 40) of their sin and judgment.

Num 26:9-10  The sons of Eliab: Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. These are the Dathan and Abiram, chosen from the congregation, who contended against Moses and Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the Lord 10and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, and they became a warning. ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

God’s Judgment Is Just

God judges with justice

See also:

Rev 16:5, 7  And I heard the angel in charge of the watersl say, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. ▤ 7And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!” ▤ 

l Greek angel of the waters

Rev 19:2  … for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”m ▤ 

m Greek bondservants; also verse 5

Isa 28:17  And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter. ▤ 

The “line” and “plumb line” are instruments of measurement.

Gen 18:25  Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? ▤ 

Abraham correctly asserted that God would not, in his judgment, wrongly treat the righteous and the wicked alike.

Isa 11:4  … but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. ▤ 

In implementing his judgments God will deal with the plight of the poor and needy with righteousness and equity/justice – which often involves punishment of the wicked.

God judges righteously

See also:

God judges righteously in both the evaluations he makes and in the resulting punishment – or rewards – that he imposes.

Ps 7:11  God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. ▤ 

Ps 9:4, 7-8  For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment. ▤ 7But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, 8and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. ▤ 

Ps 96:13b  He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness. ▤ 

Ps 98:9  … before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity. ▤ 

Acts 17:31  … because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. ▤ 

Rom 2:5  But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. ▤ 

Rom 3:5-6  But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6By no means! For then how could God judge the world? ▤ 

In v. 5, possibly anticipating an interjection to his previous argument (cf. v. 4), Paul puts forward the question that if people’s unrighteousness allows God’s righteousness to be seen more clearly, is God unjust in executing his judgment on them? Paul emphatically denies that this is case (v. 6).

2Thes 1:5  This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— ▤ 

Rev 15:4  Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed. ▤ 

God’s judgments appear to be primarily in view.

Ps 50:6  The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah ▤ 

This poetically speaks of the heavens proclaiming God’s righteousness such as he demonstrates in his judgments.

Isa 10:22  For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. ▤ 

God’s judgments, no matter how devastating, are always righteous (cf. Dan 9:7, 14 ).

Dan 9:7, 14  To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. ▤ 14Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. ▤ 

God does not show favoritism in his judgment

1Pet 1:17  And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, … ▤ 

Col 3:25  For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. ▤ 

Rom 2:9-11  There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11For God shows no partiality. ▤ 

2Chr 19:7  Now then, let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the Lord our God, or partiality or taking bribes. ▤ 

In giving instructions to judges he had appointed, Jehoshaphat implies that with God’s judgment “there is no injustice … or partiality or taking bribes”.

Job 34:19  … who shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands? ▤ 

God’s judgment is in view.

Ps 67:4  Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah ▤ 

As “equi” means “equally”, the latter part of the verse indicates that God judges all people equally or “fairly” (NCV™, NLT).

Ps 75:2  At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity. ▤ 

God judges people with knowledge of all their deeds

See also:

A key factor as to why God’s judgment is just is that he judges people with knowledge of all their deeds – as well as of all their thoughts and motives (as per the following subsection). As such he can make judgments with knowledge of all the relevant information.

1Sam 2:3  Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. ▤ 

God “knows everything” (NCV™, NIrV; cf. CEV). In view of this, the last clause probably implies that God can therefore judge all deeds. And so the verse reflects the fact that judges people with knowledge of all their deeds.

Ps 11:4, 6-7  The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. ▤ 6Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. ▤ 

God observes and “tests” or assesses all people and all that they do (v. 4) – and judges accordingly (vv. 6-7a).

Jer 16:17-18  For my eyes are on all their ways. They are not hidden from me, nor is their iniquity concealed from my eyes. 18But first I will doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations. ▤ 

Knowing all that people do, God judges and repays accordingly (cf. Jer 32:19 ).

Jer 32:19  … great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds. ▤ 

Heb 4:13  And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. ▤ 

God takes into account thoughts and motives

See also:

1Sam 16:6-7  When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” 7But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” ▤ 

Prov 16:2  All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. ▤ 

People’s ability to evaluate their own ways is limited and superficial (cf. Prov 21:2a ) – in contrast to God’s ability to evaluate or judge people.

Prov 21:2  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. ▤ 

Prov 24:11-12  Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. 12If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? ▤ 

There is no point in deceitfully claiming to not know about a matter that we should have done something about, as God knows our thoughts and will judge us accordingly.

Jer 11:20  But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause. ▤ 

In judging righteously God analyses the heart and mind.

Jer 17:10  “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind,n to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” ▤ 

n Hebrew kidneys

Luke 16:15  And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. ▤ 

This suggests that there is no point trying to justify oneself in God’s sight, as he already knows our hearts.

1Thes 2:4  … but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. ▤ 

  • God’s Messiah will not judge merely by what he sees and hears:

Isa 11:3-4  And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, 4but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. ▤ 

God’s judgments are correct

In saying that God’s judgment is right or true – or based on truth – the following verses make clear that, along with being righteous, God’s judgment is correct. God does not just attempt to judge rightly; he succeeds.

John 8:16  Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Fathero who sent me. ▤ 

o Some manuscripts he

Jesus Christ states that his decisions are right because God is with him. The implication is that God’s judgments are always right and correct.

Rev 16:7  And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!” ▤ 

Rev 19:2  … for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”p ▤ 

p Greek bondservants; also verse 5

Ps 51:4  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. ▤ 

In reflecting on God’s judgment on him, David in effect says to God, “You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment.” (AMP)

Rom 2:2  We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. ▤ 

God judges and repays people according to what they have done

See also:

Rom 2:5-8  But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6He will render to each one according to his works: 7to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8but for those who are self-seekingq and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. ▤ 

q Or contentious

Job 34:11  For according to the work of a man he will repay him, and according to his ways he will make it befall him. ▤ 

Ps 62:12b  For you will render to a man according to his work. ▤ 

Isa 59:18  According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment. ▤ 

Jer 25:14  For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands. ▤ 

Jer 32:19  … great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds. ▤ 

Col 3:25  For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. ▤ 

1Pet 1:17  And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, … ▤ 

Ezek 7:3-4, 27  Now the end is upon you, and I will send my anger upon you; I will judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations. 4And my eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity, but I will punish you for your ways, while your abominations are in your midst. Then you will know that I am the Lord. ▤ 27The king mourns, the prince is wrapped in despair, and the hands of the people of the land are paralyzed by terror. According to their way I will do to them, and according to their judgments I will judge them, and they shall know that I am the Lord. ▤ 

The term “their judgments” (v. 27) would appear to refer to judgments expressed in their treatment of others (cf. CEV).

Ezek 18:20, 30  The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. ▤ 30“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.r ▤ 

r Or lest iniquity be your stumbling block

Ezek 35:11  … therefore, as I live, declares the Lord God, I will deal with you according to the anger and envy that you showed because of your hatred against them. And I will make myself known among them, when I judge you. ▤ 

Isa 65:6-7  Behold, it is written before me: “I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their bosom 7both your iniquities and your fathers’ iniquities together, says the Lord; because they made offerings on the mountains and insulted me on the hills, I will measure into their bosom payment for their former deeds.”s ▤ 

s Or I will first measure their payment into their bosom

Zec 1:6  But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, As the Lord of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us. ▤ 

Rev 18:6  Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. ▤ 

Ruth 2:11-12  But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” ▤ 

As well as repaying wickedness, God repays good deeds.

  • God will surely repay people for their deeds:

Jer 51:56  … for a destroyer has come upon her, upon Babylon; her warriors are taken; their bows are broken in pieces, for the Lord is a God of recompense; he will surely repay. ▤ 

God repays people’s deeds with fitting recompense

See also:

The following passages speak of God’s judicial punishment paralleling the crime committed – suggesting that God repays people’s deeds with fitting recompense.

2Thes 1:6  … since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, … ▤ 

Jer 14:16  And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them. ▤ 

Joel 3:6-8  You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their own border. 7Behold, I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will return your payment on your own head. 8I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away, for the Lord has spoken. ▤ 

Hab 2:8  Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them. ▤ 

Hab 2:15-16  Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink— you pour out your wrath and make them drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness! 16You will have your fill of shame instead of glory. Drink, yourself, and show your uncircumcision! The cup in the Lord’s right hand will come around to you, and utter shame will come upon your glory! ▤ 

2Pet 2:12-13a  But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. ▤ 

The terms “wrong” and “wrongdoing” are very general but their similarity arguably reflects that God repays people’s deeds with fitting recompense.

Rev 16:4-6  The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. 5And I heard the angel in charge of the waterst say, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. 6For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!” ▤ 

t Greek angel of the waters

  • A person’s end will correspond to their deeds:

2Cor 11:15  So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. ▤ 

God gives fair warning of punishment for not obeying him . . .

2Ki 17:22-23  The people of Israel walked in all the sins that Jeroboam did. They did not depart from them, 23until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day. ▤ 

2Chr 36:15-16  The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy. ▤ 

God had persistently warned his people through his messengers (v. 15) to turn from sin or face devastating consequences – which eventuated (v. 16).

Neh 9:29-30  And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. 30Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. ▤ 

Jer 6:7-8, 17  As a well keeps its water fresh, so she keeps fresh her evil; violence and destruction are heard within her; sickness and wounds are ever before me. 8Be warned, O Jerusalem, lest I turn from you in disgust, lest I make you a desolation, an uninhabited land.” ▤ 17I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’ ▤ 

The “sound of the trumpet” (v. 17) alludes to warning of war and approaching judgment (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV).

Jer 11:7-8  For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. 8Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not. ▤ 

Heb 12:25  See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. ▤ 

Possibly “him who warned them on earth” refers to Moses (cf. NLT), but a number of commentators are not convinced. What is clear is that the judgment inflicted on those who had ignored this earlier warning/s underlines the need to heed God’s warnings of judicial punishment in the current era, with people now having a greater revelation in the light of the new covenant and so a greater responsibility.

. . . Thus God allows for repentance and for punishment to be averted

See also:

Jer 18:7-8  If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. ▤ 

Note that what is said here regarding nations is also applicable to individuals.

Jer 26:2-6, 13  “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the Lord all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. 3It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds. 4You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, 5and to listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened, 6then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.’” ▤ 13Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you. ▤ 

Jer 26:18-19  “Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and said to all the people of Judah: ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “‘Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.’ 19Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and entreat the favor of the Lord, and did not the Lord relent of the disaster that he had pronounced against them? But we are about to bring great disaster upon ourselves.” ▤ 

Jer 36:3  It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. ▤ 

Ezek 18:32  For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live. ▤ 

Note that the first half of the verse indicates that God takes no joy in inflicting such judgment. He would much rather that people heeded his warnings to repent and so live.

Jonah 3:1-10  Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,u three days’ journey in breadth.v 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. 6The word reachedw the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” 10When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. ▤ 

u Hebrew a great city to God

v Or a visit was a three days’ journey

w Or had reached

Note that the fasting and the use of sackcloth (vv. 5-8) were expressions of sorrow and repentance.

Zeph 2:1-3  Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, 2before the decree takes effectx —before the day passes away like chaff— before there comes upon you the burning anger of the Lord, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the Lord. 3Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands;y seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord. ▤ 

x Hebrew gives birth

y Or who carry out his judgment

  • It is due to his kindness that God gives people opportunity to repent and avoid judgment:

Rom 2:3-4  Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? ▤ 

Making judgments on other people only makes people more liable to God’s judgment (v. 3). For people to do so suggests that they wrongly think that they will escape God’s judgment (v. 3b) and/or that they are showing contempt for God’s “kindness, tolerance and patience” (v. 4a). People should instead recognize that they themselves are under God’s judgment (particularly if they judge others) and that God in his kindness is – for now – giving them opportunity to repent and avoid judgment.

Note: In effect, it is people’s own actions that brings God’s punishment on themselves

See also:

Isa 3:9  For the look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. ▤ 

Jer 2:17  Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the Lord your God, when he led you in the way? ▤ 

Jer 4:18  Your ways and your deeds have brought this upon you. This is your doom, and it is bitter; it has reached your very heart. ▤ 

Jer 6:19  Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it. ▤ 

Rom 2:5  But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. ▤ 

Hos 12:14  Ephraim has given bitter provocation; so his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him and will repay him for his disgraceful deeds. ▤ 

Ephraim’s own wicked deeds provoked God’s anger and judgment.

  • God gives people what they deserve:

Rev 16:4-6  The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. 5And I heard the angel in charge of the watersz say, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. 6For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!” ▤ 

z Greek angel of the waters

Pray for persecuted Christians

God’s Judgment Reveals God

See also:

Note that in addition to the attributes of God revealed by his judgment that are discussed in this section, earlier subsections show that God’s judgment reveals his righteousness, justice and complete knowledge.

God makes himself known by his judgment

Ezek 35:10-11  Because you said, ‘These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will take possession of them’—although the Lord was there— 11therefore, as I live, declares the Lord God, I will deal with you according to the anger and envy that you showed because of your hatred against them. And I will make myself known among them, when I judge you. ▤ 

By his judgment of Edom, God would make himself known – i.e. make known that he exists and that he is God.

Ps 9:16  The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion.a Selah ▤ 

a Probably a musical or liturgical term

Ezek 38:22-23  With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur. 23So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord. ▤ 

Ezek 39:6-7  I will send fire on Magog and on those who dwell securely in the coastlands, and they shall know that I am the Lord. 7“And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. ▤ 

  • God’s judgment causes people to fear him and recognize what he has done:

Ps 64:7-9  But God shoots his arrow at them [the wicked]; they are wounded suddenly. 8They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them; all who see them will wag their heads. 9Then all mankind fears; they tell what God has brought about and ponder what he has done. ▤ 

God’s judgment shows his might and his sovereignty . . .

See also:

Jer 16:18, 21  But first I will doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.” ▤ 21“Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the Lord.” ▤ 

Ex 6:6  Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. ▤ 

God’s might would be evident in his “great acts of judgment” against Egypt.

Isa 33:12-13  And the peoples will be as if burned to lime, like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.” 13Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might. ▤ 

Rom 9:22  What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, … ▤ 

This speaks of God willingness (cf. NASB) to show his wrath – presumably by executing his judgment – and so “make known his power”. Note that Paul makes the point that rather than quickly executing judgment, God bears with great patience the persons who are objects of his wrath, until the proper time for his judgment.

Rev 18:8  For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her. ▤ 

Ps 59:13  … consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth. Selah ▤ 

It is debatable as to whether David is asking God to judge enemy nations (cf. v. 8) or Saul and his men who were trying to kill him (cf. the superscription/title of the psalm). Either way, God’s judgment would reveal to all nations that he was sovereign – in particular, as noted here, sovereign over Israel. The following verses likewise indicate or reflect that God’s judgment shows his sovereignty.

Ps 83:17-18  Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them perish in disgrace, 18that they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth. ▤ 

Ps 96:10  Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” ▤ 

This points to the fact that God’s reign will be seen in his judgment of the peoples.

Ezek 20:33, 36  As I live, declares the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out I will be king over you. ▤ 36As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord God. ▤ 

God would assert his sovereignty over his people – “I will be king over you” (v. 33) – in his judgment.

. . . God’s judgment makes known that he is the Lord

See also:

God’s judgment makes known that he is the Lord – the only true God, the supreme being who has power over all people and all creation.

Ex 7:5  The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them. ▤ 

God’s plagues against Egypt (cf. Ex 10:2 ) were in a real sense judgments (cf. 6:6). They would vividly illustrate the fact that he is the Lord, both to the Egyptians (as indicated here) and to the Israelites (cf. Ex 10:1-2 ).

Ex 10:1-2  Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, 2and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.” ▤ 

Ezek 6:10, 13-14  And they shall know that I am the Lord. I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.” ▤ 13And you shall know that I am the Lord, when their slain lie among their idols around their altars, on every high hill, on all the mountaintops, under every green tree, and under every leafy oak, wherever they offered pleasing aroma to all their idols. 14And I will stretch out my hand against them and make the land desolate and waste, in all their dwelling places, from the wilderness to Riblah.b Then they will know that I am the Lord. ▤ 

b Some Hebrew manuscripts; most Hebrew manuscripts Diblah

Ezek 7:4  And my eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity, but I will punish you for your ways, while your abominations are in your midst. Then you will know that I am the Lord. ▤ 

Ezek 11:10-12  You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the Lord. 11This city shall not be your cauldron, nor shall you be the meat in the midst of it. I will judge you at the border of Israel, 12and you shall know that I am the Lord. For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you. ▤ 

The people would know that he is the Lord when they would suffer judgment for not obeying his laws.

Ezek 12:15  And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them among the countries. ▤ 

Ezek 28:22-23  … and say, Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Sidon, and I will manifest my glory in your midst. And they shall know that I am the Lord when I execute judgments in her and manifest my holiness in her; 23for I will send pestilence into her, and blood into her streets; and the slain shall fall in her midst, by the sword that is against her on every side. Then they will know that I am the Lord. ▤ 

Ezek 39:6-7  I will send fire on Magog and on those who dwell securely in the coastlands, and they shall know that I am the Lord. 7“And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. ▤ 

God’s judgment evidences his glory – and also brings him glory

See also:

Note that in the subheading, “glory” is used in two different senses. God’s awesome judgment reflects his own awesome glory that is such an integral aspect of his being (cf. God’s Glory). God’s judgment also brings him glory in the sense that he is glorified through people exalting him because of his judgment.

Ezek 28:21-22  Son of man, set your face toward Sidon, and prophesy against her 22and say, Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Sidon, and I will manifest my glory in your midst. And they shall know that I am the Lord when I execute judgments in her and manifest my holiness in her; … ▤ 

Ezek 39:4, 13, 21  You [Gog] shall fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your hordes and the peoples who are with you. I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. ▤ 13All the people of the land will bury them, and it will bring them renown on the day that I show my glory, declares the Lord God. ▤ 21“And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. ▤ 

Isa 59:18-19  According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment. 19So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream,c which the wind of the Lord drives. ▤ 

c Hebrew a narrow river

Hab 2:12-14  Woe to him who builds a town with blood and founds a city on iniquity! 13Behold, is it not from the Lord of hosts that peoples labor merely for fire, and nations weary themselves for nothing? 14For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. ▤ 

God determined that all that the nations – primarily the Babylonians – had labored to build would go up in flames (vv. 12-13). His devastating accomplishment of this would result in his glory being known throughout the earth (v. 14). Some commentators assert that this is speaking primarily of the glory of God’s presence being manifested (and so known) throughout the earth. This will be emphatically the case once and for all when he crushes his enemies at the end of the age.

Rev 19:1-2  After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”d ▤ 

d Greek bondservants; also verse 5

God’s judgment results in people attributing glory – here along with salvation and power – as belonging to God. As such God’s judgment both displays his own glory and brings him glory. The latter – that God’s judgment brings him glory – is reflected in the following verses.

Rev 14:7  And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” ▤ 

Isa 33:10, 12  “Now I will arise,” says the Lord, “now I will lift myself up; now I will be exalted. ▤ 12And the peoples will be as if burned to lime, like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.” ▤ 

God’s punishment of the wicked (v. 12), asserting his supreme authority and power, exalts God (v. 10) and so brings him glory.

God’s judgment reveals his holiness

See also:

God’s judgment reveals his holiness, showing that he ultimately will not tolerate wickedness – including disrespect for himself and his commands (cf. Lev 10:1-3 ; 1Sam 6:19-20 ).

Isa 5:15-16  Man is humbled, and each one is brought low, and the eyes of the haughtye are brought low. 16But the Lord of hosts is exaltedf in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness. ▤ 

e Hebrew high

f Hebrew high

God would show himself to be holy by his righteous judgment on evildoers (v. 15).

Ezek 28:22b  And they shall know that I am the Lord when I execute judgments in her and manifest my holiness in her; … ▤ 

Ezek 38:16, 22-23  You will come up against my people Israel, like a cloud covering the land. In the latter days I will bring you against my land, that the nations may know me, when through you, O Gog, I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. ▤ 22With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur. 23So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord. ▤ 

Ezek 39:6-7  I will send fire on Magog and on those who dwell securely in the coastlands, and they shall know that I am the Lord. 7“And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. ▤ 

God would show himself to be the Holy One in Israel by destroying those who attack his people Israel (cf. Ezek 38:16, 22-23 ).

Lev 10:1-3  Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorizedg fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace. ▤ 

g Or strange

The clause “I will be sanctified” (v. 3) either means “I will show myself holy” (NIV®, NLT, NRSV) or “I must be respected as holy” (NCV™; cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NASB, NKJV). A similar point can be made to “I will be glorified” (v. 3). The actions of Nadab and Abihu were apparently contrary to previous instructions from God, as in the case of the men of Beth Shemesh, in 1 Samuel 6:19-20 immediately below. God’s holiness demands obedience and honor – emphatically enforced here and in 1 Samuel 6:19-20 below by his judgment.

1Sam 6:19-20  And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the Lord. He struck seventy men of them,h and the people mourned because the Lord had struck the people with a great blow. 20Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” ▤ 

h Hebrew of the people seventy men, fifty thousand men

The ark signified the very presence of God (cf. Lev 10:1-3 ). Such is God’s holiness that sinful, unworthy people cannot look upon him and live (cf. comment on Ex 3:11, 20 in . . . In some sense, God is said to have been “seen”). The men’s action was also irreverent and dishonoring to God. As such, God in his holiness would not tolerate them and their act, bringing the severe consequence (v. 19), evidencing his holiness (v. 20).

God’s judgment displays his anger

See also:

The following verses do not specifically state that God’s judgment displays his anger, but they all illustrate – as do numerous others – that God’s anger is manifested in his judgment of the wicked.

Isa 13:9, 13  Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. ▤ 13Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of his fierce anger. ▤ 

Note that in v. 13 God appears to speak of himself in both the first and third persons.

Isa 63:3  I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifebloodi spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. ▤ 

i Or their juice; also verse 6

Mic 5:15  And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey. ▤ 

Zeph 3:7b-8  But all the more they were eager to make all their deeds corrupt. 8“Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed. ▤ 

The use of “decision” (v. 8) alludes to judgment, in which God’s incredible anger will manifest itself on the whole world.

Rom 2:5, 8  But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. ▤ 8but for those who are self-seekingj and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. ▤ 

j Or contentious

Rev 14:19-20  So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.k ▤ 

k About 184 miles; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters

Note: God’s restraint of his judgment shows his compassion and love

See also:

2Ki 13:23  But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now. ▤ 

Because of his graciousness and compassion God was long-suffering toward the Israelites, unwilling to promptly execute the punishments entailed in his covenant with them, allowing them time to turn back to him. (cf. NSB)

Ps 78:38  Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. ▤ 

Lam 3:31-32  For the Lord will not cast off forever, 32but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; … ▤ 

Hos 11:8-9  How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. 9I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.l ▤ 

l Or into the city

Admah and Zeboiim were cities that were totally destroyed in the judgment executed on Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Deut 29:23). Because of his compassion God would not carry out judgment to such an extent on his people.

Neh 9:26-31  Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies. 27Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. 28But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. 29And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. 30Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. ▤ 

Allied with God’s compassion are his graciousness (cf. 2Ki 13:23 ; Jonah 4:2 ) and his mercy (cf. Jonah 4:2 ). As such these are likewise spoken of as evident in God’s restraint of his judgment (v. 31).

Jonah 3:104:1-2  When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. ▤  4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly,m and he was angry. 2And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. ▤ 

m Hebrew it was exceedingly evil to Jonah

  • In his kindness, God gives people opportunity to repent (and escape judgment):

Rom 2:3-4  Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? ▤ 

For comment, see Rom 2:3-4 – under . . . Thus God allows for repentance and for punishment to be averted.

Pray for persecuted Christians