TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Intermediate Edition

II. The Manifestation of God’s Judgment

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Chapter 10  Part II

The Manifestation of God’s Judgment

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The topic of God’s judgment – particularly its manifestation – is often avoided, as it contains much that is anything but “nice”. However it contains some of the most awe-inspiring teaching, and even reason for hope for God’s people.

Means of God’s Judicial Retribution

The following list is by no means exhaustive.

Angels

[A psalmist, referring to God:]  He inflicted his burning anger, wrath, indignation, and distress, sending destroying angels among them.   Psalms 78:49  ISV

Nature

The Lord sent darkness and made the land dark, but the Egyptians turned against what he said. 29So he changed their water into blood and made their fish die. 30Then their country was filled with frogs, even in the bedrooms of their rulers. 31The Lord spoke and flies came, and gnats were everywhere in the country. 32He made hail fall like rain and sent lightning through their land. 33He struck down their grapevines and fig trees, and he destroyed every tree in the country. 34He spoke and grasshoppers came; the locusts were too many to count. 35They ate all the plants in the land and everything the earth produced.   Psalms 105:28-35  NCV™

Nations

[God:] Look, I am about to empower the Babylonians, that ruthless and greedy nation. They sweep across the surface of the earth, seizing dwelling places that do not belong to them.12[Habakkuk:] Lord, you have made them your instrument of judgment. Protector, you have appointed them as your instrument of punishment.   Habakkuk 1:6, 12b  NET

Characteristics of God’s Judicial Retribution

Note that not all instances of God’s judicial retribution display all of the following characteristics – certainly not to the extent of which they are spoken of here. Much of the judgment spoken of in this section is conclusive in its purpose, bringing the finality of death – as opposed to God’s disciplinary judgment.

Awesome power

The sounds of battle will resound to the ends of the earth. For the Lord will bring charges against the nations. He will pass judgment on all humankind and will hand the wicked over to be killed in war.’ The Lord so affirms it! 32The Lord who rules over all says, ‘Disaster will soon come on one nation after another. A mighty storm of military destruction is rising up from the distant parts of the earth.’   Jeremiah 25:31-32  NET

Inescapable

[Paul:] And do you think, whoever you are, when you judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment?   Romans 2:3  NET

Terrifying

Destruction, devastation, and desolation! Their hearts faint, their knees tremble, each stomach churns, each face turns pale!   Nahum 2:10  NET

For if we choose to go on sinning after we have received the full knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but only a terrifying prospect of judgment and a raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.   Hebrews 10:26-27  ISV

Horrific consequences

[God, concerning Pharaoh:]  I will throw you into an open field, where birds and animals will come to feed on your body. 5I will spread your rotting flesh  over the mountains and in the valleys, 6and your blood will flow throughout the land and fill up the streams.   Ezekiel 32:4-6  CEV

The Wicked and God’s Pending Judgment

Questioning of God’s apparent lack of judgment on the wicked

[Jeremiah:] Lord, you have always been fair whenever I have complained to you. However, I would like to speak with you about the disposition of justice. Why are wicked people successful? Why do all dishonest people have such easy lives?   Jeremiah 12:1  NET

The situation of the wicked is precarious

These people [the wicked] may prosper, but they will never feel secure about life. 23God may let them feel confident and self-reliant, but his eyes are on their ways.   Job 24:22b-23  GW

In due time God does take action against the wicked

[God:] To me belong vengeance and recompense. In due time their feet will slip, because their time of calamity is near and the things prepared for them draw near.   Deuteronomy 32:35  ISV

The wicked reap what they sow, brought down by their own evil

[Eliphaz:] Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble reap the same.   Job 4:8  NET

The violence done by the wicked will drag them away because they refuse to do what is right.   Proverbs 21:7  NET

The future of the wicked contrasts with that of the righteous

[A psalmist, speaking of a righteous person:] For he will never be upended; others will always remember one who is just. 7He does not fear bad news. He is confident; he trusts in the Lord. 8His resolve is firm; he will not succumb to fear before he looks in triumph on his enemies. 9He generously gives to the needy; his integrity endures. He will be vindicated and honored. 10When the wicked see this, they will worry; they will grind their teeth in frustration and melt away; the desire of the wicked will perish.   Psalms 112:6-10  NET

Although a righteous person may fall seven times, he gets up again, but the wicked will be brought down by calamity.   Proverbs 24:16  NET

God’s Judgment of Israel – and His Mercy

Israel failed to keep God’s laws and broke his covenant

[God:] They have gone back to the evil ways of their ancestors of old who refused to obey what I told them. They, too, have paid allegiance to other gods and worshiped them. Both the nation of Israel and the nation of Judah have violated the covenant I made with their ancestors.   Jeremiah 11:10  NET

Despite the Mosaic Law’s provision for Israel’s sin, the Israelites as a whole persisted in sin – rebelling against God and breaking his covenant with them. This showed that ultimately the law was not sufficient to deal with sin.

Eventually God decided to destroy unfaithful Israel

[God:] My people, you abandoned me and walked away. I am tired of showing mercy; that’s why I’ll destroy you 7by scattering you like straw blown by the wind. I will punish you with sorrow and death, because you refuse to change your ways.   Jeremiah 15:6-7  CEV

But God promised to spare a remnant of Israel

[Isaiah, speaking a message from God:] Those who remain in Judah will take root in the ground and bear fruit. 31For a remnant will leave Jerusalem; survivors will come out of Mount Zion. The intense devotion of the sovereign Lord to his people will accomplish this.   2 Kings 19:30-31  NET

Note that “Judah” was the name of the southern Israelite kingdom and that “Mount Zion” alludes to Jerusalem, with Zion originally being the name of one of the hills on which Jerusalem was built.

Pray for persecuted Christians