The Proclamation of John the Baptist
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ (Matthew 3:1-12)
God is actually furious right now today with most of mankind. There are a number of reasons why God is not merely disappointed with us. Many of us these days are provoking God -- living in denial. Fiery outrage and furious wrath are attributes of the One who is our Creator. God is actually a living Being. [Yes, “God is love,” that should be clear a bit later. He is also Holy and Just.]
“He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power.” (1 Timothy 6:15,16)
The Wrath of God is more about of our ill-advised selfish behaviors and the consequences, than about Him having a divine temper tantrum. Romans 1:18-20 declares that all men everywhere, regardless of what they know or don't know, are without excuse because of God's revelation of Himself in nature.
For the wrath (orge) of God is revealed (apokalupto) from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress (repress) the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things..." (Romans 1:18-23)
God’s stinging indictment of mankind or many reasons can be seen throughout the entire Bible, for instance in Romans Chapter 2:
“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.” (Romans 2:1-11)
The specific group of people addressed here are the self-righteous, not the flagrant sinners indicted in Romans Chapter 1, nor the Jewish people addressed in Chapter 3. Actually ALL of us are included in one way of another in these early chapters of Romans. A way of escape is also clearly given! Trusting and serving God’s Son, Jesus Christ the Lord, is THE one way of escape that a God of love has provided to any and all of us! God is holy and righteous and just, but His "mercy triumphs over judgment." We can not earn God’s favor, get on His “good side,” nor placate Him with meritorious deeds. His help is offered free to us--purchased at enormous cost to Himself. Keep in mind that God is a Person. His mind is infinitely better than all the minds of any sage, scientist, philosopher. His emotions are far deeper than we can ever know. Glimpses?
From Sinful Morality by Ray Stedman:
This wrath... is primarily God's removal of the restraints upon human wickedness, allowing evil to become widespread and publicly evident. That is the wrath of God at work...these people who have a clear view of what is wrong in society is devastating. He says they are guilty because they are doing the same things themselves. The judges are as guilty as the ones they have in the dock.
As a practiced, self-righteous hypocrite, I always have a feeling of surprise at that statement. I feel that whenever moral people, those who pride themselves on a degree of righteousness and a standard of ethics, read a statement like this, they are taken by surprise. "What do you mean? How could this be?"
This reminds me of our Lord's account of His return, when all the nations are to be judged before Him (Matthew 25:31-46). He will separate them into two bands, the sheep and the goats. The test of judgment is made on the basis of how people treat others.
He will say to the sheep, "When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink, when I was hungry you fed me, when I was naked you clothed me, when I was in prison you visited me."
To the goats He will say, "When I was thirsty you did not give me to drink, when I was hungry you did not feed me, when I was naked you did not clothe me, and when I was sick or in prison you did not visit me."
Both groups are taken by surprise and say, "When did this happen? When did we see you thirsty or hungry or naked? We don't remember that!"
This feeling of surprise is highly indicative of how little we understand ourselves and why we need a passage such as this. We are all guilty. I am going to use myself as an example, simply because I feel I am such an excellent example of what the rest of you are like. As I have been thinking this through, I see three ways by which I try to elude the fact that I am guilty of the things that I accuse others of doing: First, I am congenitally blind toward many of my own faults. I just am not aware of them. I do not see that I am doing the same things that others are doing, and yet other people can see that I am. I don't see it, and neither do you see it in yourself. We all have these blind spots.
One of the greatest lies of our age is the idea that we can know ourselves. We often argue, "Don't you think I know myself?" The answer is, "No, you do not know yourself. You are blind to much of your life." There can be areas that are very hurtful and sinful that you are not aware of...
How tenuous to hope that God, who sees all men openly and intimately, who sees not only what is on the outside but also what is on the inside, will pronounce judgment on these other people, but not on you. People will say, "How can a just and loving God permit the injustice and vileness that takes place in this world? How can he allow a tyrant like Hitler or Stalin to arise and murder millions of innocent people? How can he allow these godless regimes to come into power and crush people, usurp their rights, put thousands in prison, and spread destruction and sorrow across the land? Why does he allow these things to go on year after year? Why doesn't God judge these men?"The question we ought to ask is, "Why didn't he judge me yesterday, when I said that sharp, caustic word that plunged like an arrow into a loved one's heart and hurt him badly? Why didn't he judge me? Why didn't he shrivel my hand when I took a pencil and cheated on my income tax? Why didn't he strike me dumb when I was gossiping on the phone this morning, sharing a tidbit that made someone look bad in someone else's eyes? Why didn't God judge that?"
The God of truth and justice sees the one as well as the other. Paul asks, "Do you think that you will escape the judgment of God?" Then Paul asked the second question, the other horn of the dilemma:
Paul's question is, "Why are you acting the way you are?" Why do you judge others so critically and so constantly, yet never seem to judge yourself? Surely it can't be that you think you are going to escape! If you know that God judges according to truth, you must be included in that judgment as well. If it is not that you think you'll escape his judgment, then it must be that you are treating with disdain the opportunities God gives you to repent. Why are you allowed to live? Why are you permitted to experience life, to find a new year lying ahead of you, with all its chances to correct these wrong attitudes and conditions? God's goodness, tolerance, and patience are exhibited in his giving you a chance to change, a chance to acknowledge your sins and to be forgiven. We have to see all our life in this respect. A faithful God, judging the inner part of life, does give us these opportunities. He knows we are blind. He knows that we often struggle at recognizing what is wrong in our life, and so he gives us these opportunities to repent and change. These moments of truth are very important... I am amazed to see in my own heart how many times I expect God to show favoritism. Even as a Christian, I expect him to overlook areas of my life without any acknowledgment on my part that they are there. I expect him to forget them without revealing to me what their true nature is. Yet the Scriptures tell us that God is constantly bringing to our attention times when we see ourselves clearly. What valuable times they are!
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, even realizing that God's kindness should lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4 NIV)
Paul says that when we refuse to judge these areas we are storing up wrath for ourselves. The word is "treasures." We are laying up treasures, but the treasure is wrath. This is the same word that Jesus employed when he said, "Lay up treasures for yourselves in heaven," (Matthew 6:20 KJV). We are constantly making deposits in a bank account which we must collect one of these days. In his wrath, God allows us to deteriorate as human beings. We become less than what we want to be. I think C. S. Lewis has described this very accurately. In his book, Mere Christianity, he says,
People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, "If you keep a lot of rules, I'll reward you; and if you don't, I'll do the other thing." I do not think that's the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different than what it was before. And, taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature; either into a creature that is in harmony with God and with other creatures and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God and with its fellow creatures and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heavenly, i.e., it is joy and peace and knowledge and power; to be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us, at each moment, is progressing to the one state or the other.In very eloquent terms, that is saying the same thing Paul brings out here. God is a righteous God. He judges men and he assesses wrath against those who do wrong. No matter what the outward life may be like, he sees the inward heart and judges on that basis. There is a righteous judgment awaiting. It comes, in part, all through life, because we experience the wrath of God even now. But a day is coming when it all will be manifested, one way or the other. The question Paul brings out here is this: What do you really want out of life? What are you seeking?
If you are "by persistence in doing good seeking glory and honor and immortality," i.e., if you want God's life, you want to be his kind of a person, you want to honor him and be of value to him -- if that is what you really want above everything else, then you will find it. God will give you eternal life. In the context of the whole Scripture, this means you will find your way to Jesus Christ, for he is life eternal. You will find him as your Redeemer and Lord and Savior. You will grow increasingly like him, as you judge these evil areas of life, and honestly confess them, not assuming that God will pass over them. But what do you really want?
If what you really want is not God, truth, life, glory, and immortality -- if you really want pleasure and fame and wealth and power and prominence, if you want to be the center of things and have everybody thinking of you and looking at you and serving you -- then, according to this passage, "there will be trouble and stress for every human being who does evil, first for the Jew, and then for the Gentile." God plays no favorites. Church member or pagan, civilized or savage, white, brown, red, black or yellow, it makes no difference before God.
Now if all this sounds very harsh, if it sounds unloving, it is because you have not read the passage in its context. For this is not inconsistent with the picture of a loving God, who loves humanity and wants to restore it. It is a picture of a loving God who loves us so much that he tells us the truth, and that is true love. He will not allow us to deceive ourselves, to be tricked and trapped by falling into self-deceit. He tells us the truth. There is no way out, except one, and that is what he wants us to see. God's love is helping us to see that there is only one way to deal with sin -- admit it is there, and recognize that God has already dealt with it in Christ. On that basis, God offers us full and free forgiveness. There is no other way.
Any person who thinks he will escape by taking another route, or listening to some of the other voices that try to trap us into ways of rationalizing these feelings, and accepting them on other terms rather than dealing with them as ugly sins before God, will discover ultimately that he has stored up a treasure house of wrath. That is why God tells us the truth now. God, in great love and at tremendous cost, has provided a way out. It is that we surrender self. We give up self-seeking and living for ourselves, and begin to live for the God who made us. By the power of the Lord who forgives us and restores us and makes us his own, we have heaven instead of hell.
C. S. Lewis says the principle of giving up self runs all through life, from top to bottom:
Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life, and you will save it. Submit to the death of your ambitions and your favorite wishes every day, and the death of your whole body in the end, submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look out for yourself and you will find, in the long run, only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him, everything else thrown in.
This is the gospel. This is what this tremendous passage is aiming at, that we might realize there is no hope, none whatsoever, except in a day-by-day yielding to the plan and the program of God, as we find it in Jesus Christ our Lord...
How would you feel (if you were God), if a usurper took possession of your great creation with the intent of running everything for his own glory? You’d be outraged most certainly! To add insult to injury, your greatest work of creating--namely Adam/Eve, made in your image, teamed up with the Evil One forming a partnership, alliance, consortium, conspiracy to change all the rules--calling good evil and evil good among other things. Man ends up “totally depraved” — a puppet not a king. Eve faired no better.
Should God be outraged at all these bad choices by certain angels and man ending up in the camp of the Lord’s cosmic enemy? Yes, the anger of God was surely “kindled” back at the beginning of the show. Has God additional reason to be both hurt and outraged? Can God identity with us since He is holy and sin?
Yes! God can and in fact already HAS SOLVED the problem of evil—both human and angelic. God lives outside of time. He created time.
For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would fail before Me,
And the souls which I have made. (Isaiah 57:15-16)
It is not surprising that Jesus, the Son, should be assigned the greatest honor of all. God knew His pristine universe, His creation masterpiece would be ruined, but our freedom to choose, our free choice, is sacrosanct. That “free will” — which makes us most like God — is cherished and protected deeply by God because of His very own triune nature.
God IS Love—make no mistake about that. He is not a cantankerous, bitter old man subject to out-of-control fits and outbursts of pent-up anger. (We meet people like that). God is not easily provoked even when human behavior is outrageous. How often criminals go unpunished, the innocent suffer, and good people are put-down and marginalized! Why doesn’t God step in? Is He even keeping score? Yes. God’s record books include every detail, all the fine points, every nuance, motives and recorded facts.
Genesis 18 records an amazing dialogue between Abraham and The Angel of the LORD () during which God patiently agrees to spare Sodom and the Cities of the Plain from destruction if ten good people live there. (The next day we see that only Lot and his two daughters survived. None of the three qualify for sainthood however).
We are not the good people we insist we are.
What then? Are we better than they?
Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
“Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:9-26)
The fact that judgment and justice are long overdue in the universe is linked to an important attribute of God, “long-suffering.” His “stored up wrath” is also mentioned in Romans 2 quoted above.
God is actually not one Person but Three. Before we and our world were even conceived in the mind of God. The Three chose the Son to solve the enormous holocaust of the Fall of man, and the fall of certain angels before that.
Looking ahead, the story of man has a triumphant ending. Everyone will recognize Jesus, those who already know Him personally, and those who did not:
“All who dwell on the earth will worship him,
whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
If anyone has an ear, let him hear.” (Revelation 13:8-9)
The wrecking of the universe began way back at the beginning but has been compounded many-fold since the Fall.
God is not merely watching history. He has been embedded in history since the beginning! He has been pursuing man ever since! He chose to pursue Adam down the long corridor of history and with a slightly different track He has been pursuing Eve also. We are included! Jesus has been called “The Hound of Heaven” since His desire is for no one to perish. He can not force Himself on us because he can not violate anyone’s will!
“...do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9)
Consider the love Jesus has for his enemies, the Pharisees. He turns up the heat in his last attempts to get their attention but only a few respond and come to Him for life. (Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, Saul of Tarsus, et al).
Emotionally how would you expect God to react to man’s inhumanity to man, down through thousands of years of history till now? On top of that, what about all the rejection, apathy, indifference towards the very Person of God as manifested in Jesus?
An unusual scripture about events at the end of the age is Revelation 6:-5-17:
And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks,
“Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath (orge) of the Lamb!“
For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
I have never seen an angry lamb, a perturbed goat yes.
Until I read about His two cleansings of the temple I thought Jesus was meek and mild and never hurt a fly.
I realize now that we can provoke our Heavenly Father to correct us when we get out of line. But God’s holy indignation for our sins was all transferred to Jesus on the Cross. God has very good reason to express His fury at those who continue to hate His Son no matter how much patient mercy and long-suffering He expresses.
Another passage about the stored-up wrath of God and of wrath of the Lamb:
“If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand,“he himself shall also drink of the wine of th e wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:9-14)Even more awesome are the terrible judgments to be unloosed soon on the earth:
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath (thumos) of God on the earth. So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died. Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying:Since the lockdown of March 2020, I see God turning up the heat more and more every day to draw people around the world to Himself. At the same time He is sheltering His sheep tenderly!
“You are righteous, O Lord,
The One who is and who was and who is to be,
Because You have judged these things.
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
And You have given them blood to drink.
For it is their just due.”
And I heard another from the altar saying,
“Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”
Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds. Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great. (Revelation 16)
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.
For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.“ |(1 Thessalonians 1:2-10)
Was Jesus well-received among His own people when He showed up in Israel on time, exactly as predicted--with exact credentials? He was soundly rejected and murdered, (as most people realize). Has Jesus been well received since He came triumphantly back from the dead and ascended to the throne room of the Father? No, Jesus is ignored by most, and widely represented by many of His followers with few exceptions.
If you were God what would you do as Governor, CEO, Commander of the Armies of Heaven, Captain of the Angelic Host, LORD of the cosmos? Surely you would step in and stop mankind’s suicidal self-destruction? How long would you tolerate the exploitation and ruination of a once glorious planet? (If He had stepped in a hundred years ago, you and I would have been left out!)
What about a Just God paying us back for our part in our great personal anarchy? On what grounds should we plead for mercy? Here is where we can be surprised by joy! The key word is “propitiation” (a much stronger word than the usual “expiation.” See the footnotes)
If I owe you $20 due Friday and pay you back $20 on time, my debt has been paid as agreed. That’s “expiation” illustrated. The debt is paid.
If I owe you $20 and pay you back $20 plus an extra $20, on time or earlier, we have a clue about the meaning of “propitiation.” The debt is more than satisfied. My actions were over and beyond what I was obliged to pay.
To suggest a scenario for events in heaven between God the Father and God the Son (outside of time), suppose the following:
God the Father commissions His Son to solve the problem of human evil by interposing Himself (i.e., the Son) between a righteous, holy God and a hopelessly lost human race. What a great gulf! God is righteous and He must act justly, punishing sin and removing evil from the universe. Sin can only be resolved, covered, removed by a suitable blood sacrifice. Therefore in order for the Son to carry out the Father’s commission He is asked to carry out the most unimaginable task of perfect obedience unto death. Leaving the details for now, the Son of God did in fact become a man, was born of woman, was free from the genetic contamination of Adam. He did obey the Father perfectly for 30+ years and then He died. He did not stay dead which would have prevented Him from conquering death and returning triumphantly to the Father.
A Third Party, God the Holy Spirit, went through the whole process with Jesus. The Spirit was instrumental in carrying out the requirement of the Law of Moses from the birth birth of Jesus to resurrection and ascension. The Spirit did garbage cleanup by removing all sin to a secure facility--to Hell --so the entire creation is being made safe and a new home for redeemed persons is being built.
Imagine the Father’s delight when the Son reports back to the Father, “I accomplished the task you assigned to me.” “I am back, what is my next assignment.”
The Father was “propitiated” not merely “expiated.” (See Footnote)
What is the next assignment for the Son of God in history? We are told! The Father hands the title deed of the earth to His incarnate Son in the dramatic scene witnessed by the aged disciple (Apostle) John in Revelation 4,5!
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”
Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. (Revelation 4:1 - 5:14)
Is God just in punishing evil and paying all unpaid bills and debts? It’s tempting to say “Damn right.” He is totally Just. We are given glimpses of God’s behind-the-scenes hands-on personal-involvement in human affairs. He can not, my nature, act unjustly. Does the punishment fit the crime? Can anyone in hell accuse God for acting unjustly? Can any of us escape? What about our culpability if we refuse God's solution to our sin problem.
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?
For He has not put the world (oikoumene) to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”
For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying:
“I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”
“I will put My trust in Him.”
“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham... (Hebrews 2:1-16)
There is more. Many will not believe until a crisis in life comes upon us and we see our deep need for Jesus. He helps of course, even when we turn down further aid, further rescue.
Jesus is always bailing out ungrateful sinners even when most will go their own way after the bail-out! Still Jesus the Hound of Heaven wants no one to perish. In a world now numbering 8000 million persons some estimate that 10% are responders, followers, obedient servants of Jesus. (Only 5% of the people in the world are Americans.) In His announced move we can expect God to soon step back into history, He will take charge directly to set everything straight--working with, and through, His servants. A hard core of humans will continue to refuse Him, or even to acknowledge Jesus as rightful heir. He is King over kings, Lord of lords, whether anyone believes that or not. No matter how much Jesus “turns up the heat” many prefer hell to heaven. If this is the case, God will grant their last wishes. (See Luke 16:18-31)
What’s coming down the pike? At long last the “stored-up,” long overdue, wrath of God will be poured out soon on earth and on earth’s inhabitants. It’s wise to get out of way now by “fleeing from the wrath to come.”
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth. O LORD, I have heard the report of thee, and thy work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years renew it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.
God will come from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran (i.e., from Sinai and Edom; Petra).
His glory will cover the heavens, and the earth will be full of his praise. Selah. His brightness is like the light, rays flash from his hand; and there he will veil his power. Before him goes pestilence, and plague follows close behind. He will stand and measure the earth; he will look and shake the nations; then the eternal mountains will be scattered, the everlasting hills sink low. His ways will be as of old. I see the tents of Cushan in affliction; the curtains of the land of Midian tremble. Is your wrath against the rivers, O LORD? Is your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea, when you ride upon thy horses, upon your chariot of victory? You will strip the sheath from thy bow, and put the arrows to the string. Selah.
You will cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains will see you, and writhe; the raging waters sweep on; the deep gives forth its voice, it lifts its hands on high. The sun and moon stand still in their habitation at the light of your arrows as they speed, at the flash of your glittering spear. You will stride the earth in fury, you will trample the nations in anger. You will go forth for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You will crush the head of the wicked (one), laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah.
You will pierce with your shafts the head of his warriors, who come like a whirlwind to scatter me, rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret. You will trample the sea with your horses, the surging of mighty waters.
I hear, and my body trembles, my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones, my steps totter beneath me. I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree do not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds' feet, he makes me tread upon my high places. (Habakkuk 3:1-19)
Note: The Hebrew Prophetic Future Verb Tense
Verb tenses are not as clearly specified in the Hebrew language as they are in English. In a number of prophetic passages of the Old Testament the verbs are commonly translated as past tense in our English Bibles. However, the prophetic future tense can equally well be used. (Note: When the Hebrew letter waw is added before a word it means "and." When added as a suffix it means "his." Waw before a verb indicates a change of the tense of the verb from past to future and vice versa (a verb in the past tense with a waw in front of it is to be understood as future tense).
Notice in the passage quoted below how the words of the prophet Habakkuk take on new meaning for the end of the age if one switches the verb tenses from past tense to future. Habakkuk lived just before Nebuchadnezzar's siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple so he was downhearted and grieved because God was bringing great Israel against the chosen people through a foreign people of even great wickedness. It was a dark hour for history similar to the hour that Israel faces in our own time, so Habakkuk's words and prayers applied both to his immediate situation. Yet his prayer would seem to apply equally well to the end of the present age:
Habakkuk said: "The vision will speak in the end," as all true words from God do. When Jesus Christ returns He will come from Bozra/Petra brining with him the Jews from the remnant who fled Jerusalem at the mid-point of the Tribulation (see Matthew 24:15-22). His garments will be spattered by the blood of His enemies, (Revelation 19:13 and Isaiah 63). Jewish believers down through the centuries will be resurrected from the dead and brought to Petra where the Great Shepherd will separate believers from nonbelievers. As the Greater Moses, Jesus will bring all of the Jews who are true believers with him when he returns to stand on the Mount of Olives, Zechariah 14. A Wonderful Hebrew word is Perez, Ha Parats, translated "Breaker" when referring to Messiah as Shepherd King.
Jewish Encyclopedia: Originally, the name of a tribe and then of a district of the Edomites. In Biblical genealogy it is the name of the eldest son of Eliphaz, the first-born of Esau, and one of the "dukes" of Edom (Gen. xxxvi. 11, 15, 42; I Chronicles i. 36, 53). The genealogy here noted proves that Teman was one of the most important of the Edomite tribes, and this is confirmed by the fact that "Teman" is used as a synonym for Edom itself (Amos i. 12; Obadiah 9; comp. Jeremiah xlix. 20, 22; Habakkuk iii. 3). The Temanites were famed for their wisdom (Jeremiah xlix. 7; Baruch iii. 22); Eliphaz, the oldest and wisest of the friends of Job, is described as a member of this tribe (Job ii. 11 et passim).
Teman is referred to in Obadiah 9 as a part of the mount of Esau, while Amos i. 12 mentions it in connection with the Edomite "palaces of Bozrah"; Ezekiel xxv. 13 speaks of it in contrast to the southern boundary Dedan. The "Onomasticon" of Eusebius (260, 155) mentions a region called Thaiman, in Gebalene (the Gebal of Ps. lxxxiii. 8 [A. V. 7]), and thus in the district of Petra, noting also an East Teman, a town with a Roman garrison fifteen (according to Jerome, five) miles from Petra.
Peter Addresses the Crowd on the Day of Pentecost
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 “In the last days it will be, God declares,22 ‘You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24But God raised him up, having freed him from death,because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25 For David says concerning him,
“I saw the Lord always before me,
29 ‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.30Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
“He was not abandoned to Hades,32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“The Lord said to my Lord,36 Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.’ (Acts 2:14-35)
The Rider on the White Horse
Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’.
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, ‘Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and their riders—flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.’ Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against the rider on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur. And the rest were killed by the sword of the rider on the horse, the sword that came from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Revelation 19:11-21)
Change your mind and get acquainted with Jesus. He is alive today and in charge of everything. He is now working behind the scenes, but not for much longer.
“He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:10-13)
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1:8,9)
The Ruthlessness of God
Jesus, Judge of All
Notes on Habakkuk
Zephaniah: The Day of God's Wrath
Two Aspects of the Second Coming of Jesus
Ray Stedman: Revelation Commentary
"...In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!’ They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of the godless.
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home." (2 Peter 3:3-12)
A — 1: ἱλάσκομαι
(Strong's #2433 — Verb — hilaskomai — hil-as'-kom-ahee )
was used amongst the Greeks with the significance "to make the gods propitious, to appease, propitiate," inasmuch as their good will was not conceived as their natural attitude, but something to be earned first. This use of the word is foreign to the Greek Bible, with respect to God, whether in the Sept. or in the NT. It is never used of any act whereby man brings God into a favorable attitude or gracious disposition. It is God who is "propitiated" by the vindication of His holy and righteous character, whereby, through the provision He has made in the vicarious and expiatory sacrifice of Christ, He has so dealt with sin that He can show mercy to the believing sinner in the removal of his guilt and the remission of his sins.
Thus in Luke 18:13 it signifies "to be propitious" or "merciful to" (with the person as the object of the verb), and in Hebrews 2:17 "to expiate, to make propitiation for" (the object of the verb being sins); here the RV, "to make propitiation" is an important correction of the AV, "to make reconciliation." Through the "propitiation" sacrifice of Christ, he who believes upon Him is by God's own act delivered from justly deserved wrath, and comes under the covenant of grace. Never is God said to be reconciled, a fact itself indicative that the enmity exists on man's part alone, and that it is man who needs to be reconciled to God, and not God to man. God is always the same and, since He is Himself immutable, His relative attitude does change towards those who change. He can act differently towards those who come to Him by faith, and solely on the ground of the "propitiatory" sacrifice of Christ, not because He has changed, but because He ever acts according to His unchanging righteousness.
The expiatory work of the Cross is therefore the means whereby the barrier which sin interposes between God and man is broken down. By the giving up of His sinless life sacrificially, Christ annuls the power of sin to separate between God and the believer.
In the OT the Hebrew verb kaphar is connected with kopher, "a covering" (see MERCY SEAT), and is used in connection with the burnt offering, e.g., Leviticus 1:4; 14:20; 16:24 , the guilt offering e.g., Leviticus 5:16,18 , the sin offering, e.g., Leviticus 4:20,26,31,35 , the sin offering and burnt offering together, e.g., Leviticus 5:10; 9:7 , the meal offering and peace offering, e.g., Ezekiel 45:15,17 , as well as in other respects. It is used of the ram offered at the consecration of the high priest, Exodus 29:33 , and of the blood which God gave upon the altar to make "propitiation" for the souls of the people, and that because "the life of the flesh is in the blood," Leviticus 17:11 , and "it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life" (RV). Man has forfeited his life on account of sin and God has provided the one and only way whereby eternal life could be bestowed, namely, by the voluntary laying down of His life by His Son, under Divine retribution. Of this the former sacrifices appointed by God were foreshadowings.
B — 1: ἱλαστήριον
(Strong's #2435 — Noun Neuter — hilasterion — hil-as-tay'-ree-on )
akin to A, is regarded as the neuter of an adjective signifying "propitiatory." In the Sept. it is used adjectively in connection with epithema, "a cover," in Exodus 25:17; 37:6 , of the lid of the ark (see MERCY SEAT), but it is used as a noun (without epithema), of locality, in Exodus 25:18-22; 31:7; 35:12; 37:7,8,9; Leviticus 16:2,13-15; Numbers 7:89 , and this is its use in Hebrews 9:5.
Elsewhere in the NT it occurs in Romans 3:25 , where it is used of Christ Himself; the RV text and punctuation in this verse are important: "whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, by His blood." The phrase "by His blood" is to be taken in immediate connection with "propitiation." Christ, through His expiatory death, is the Personal means by whom God shows the mercy of His justifying grace to the sinner who believes. His "blood" stands for the voluntary giving up of His life, by the shedding of His blood in expiatory sacrifice, under Divine judgment righteously due to us as sinners, faith being the sole condition on man's part.
Note: "By metonymy, 'blood' is sometimes put for 'death,' inasmuch as, blood being essential to life, Leviticus 17:11 , when the blood is shed life is given up, that is, death takes place. The fundamental principle on which God deals with sinners is expressed in the words 'apart from shedding of blood,' i.e., unless a death takes place, 'there is no remission' of sins, Hebrews 9:22 .
"But whereas the essential of the type lay in the fact that blood was shed, the essential of the Antitype lies in this, that the blood shed was that of Christ. Hence, in connection with Jewish sacrifices, 'the blood' is mentioned without reference to the victim from which it flowed, but in connection with the great antitypical sacrifice of the NT the words 'the blood' never stand alone; the One Who shed the blood is invariably specified, for it is the Person that gives value to the work; the saving efficacy of the Death depends entirely upon the fact that He Who died was the Son of God." * [* From Notes on Thessalonians by Hogg and Vine, p. 168.]
Notes by Lambert Dolphin
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April 26, 2022.