Friday, December 14, 2012

The Stages of Judgment

The last sermon I preached during this last stint in the States was about the different stages of warning God employs when He is attempting to reach a nation, and stir it to wakefulness. Since the drive home was longer than I had anticipated that night, I had time to think on the topic, roll it around in my mind, and try to understand it deeper than I had before.

The reason I had to think about this particular topic is because the way I preach does not lend itself well to notes, cheat sheets, diagrams, or three point sermons. I believe God knows what the people need to hear, and when we try to manufacture a sermon, or come to a meeting with a canned sermon, we are inhibiting God from moving in us and through us, and speaking the message the people need.

Yes, I do believe in preparation, I do believe in getting into the Word and spending time alone with God, but as far as planning ahead of time as to what you will say, I’ve never subscribed to that particular school.

When we study the word of God it becomes apparent that there are stages to God’s warnings until judgment is finally poured out. First, God first sends a prophet to a nation. The prophet is tasked with prophesying impending judgment, counseling the nation to repent. At the time, the message seems so improbable, and even impossible, that most often the man whom God sent to warn is mocked and ridiculed for the message he was tasked to deliver. There are instances however – Nineveh being one of them – when the people repent and turn their hearts back to God. If the nation repents at the words of the prophet, then that’s as far as it goes.

If the nation does not repent, God begins to establish watchmen. A watchman is one who looks, sees judgment approaching from afar off, and begins to cry aloud that judgment is coming. One thing we must understand about a watchman is that he sees the judgment approaching before others within the household of faith see it. If a man calling himself a watchman is warning of the same thing the six o’clock news is warning of, then he is a watchman in name only.

Watchmen are by the nature of their calling misunderstood. Due to their vantage point, they see further into the future than those not established in the watchtower, and what they see usually conflicts with what others around him see, envision or hope.

Watchmen watch. They look afar off, and report what they see, not what they think they see, hope they see, or interpret they see.

After the watchmen’s warnings go unheeded, God proceeds to remove His hedge of protection and blessing from the nation in question. Since both the warnings of the prophets and the watchmen went unheeded, and in most cases the nation waxed worse becoming futile in their hearts and actions, God is left with no choice but to continue taking steps in fulfilling what He forewarned of.

After blessing, favor and protection is removed from a nation and the nation still continues to ignore or otherwise disobey God – coming to the point of being in open rebellion against Him – the last and final step God takes is to pour out His judgment upon the rebellious and disobedient nation.

Pray as we might for God to withhold His judgment, if repentance is not forthcoming His righteousness demands He pour out what He promised He would. I mention this only because I’ve run into well-meaning, good-hearted people recently who don’t believe God will judge America because they’ve prayed towards this end. God will not override His justice, or righteousness I fear, and the death of Christ on the cross proves this fact beyond doubt.

If God did not override His justice, holiness and righteousness to save the life of His only begotten Son, He will not do so to spare a rebellious and unthankful nation just because we ask Him to.

As yet, we are not seeing the judgment of God, although it is evident to one and all that the favor, blessing, and protection of God have been removed from us.

Because rebellion is still the order of the day, and because even those within the household of faith have laid down their standards and are actively embracing the ways of the world, judgment is only a matter of time.

For those who were wondering, yes, I made it home safe and sound, although some twenty-four hours later than I had planned. Spending twenty-one hours in a car after spending almost eighteen hours either on planes or in airports is taxing, and I don’t recommend it for anyone.

Nothing tests one’s patience so well as snowstorms and inept bureaucracy.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.


Barbara said...

Wow I spent 13 hours travelling yesterday and the way I made it thorugh was to bring snacks, magazines and to get out and be somewhere else besides the vehicle at regular intervals.

I think those who are called by God and follow him will be saved and blessed and protected, all the while the rest of the world that is beyond the pale of tolerance, will be judged. Before Christ, a nation could be warned but after Chrsit, it is the body of believers who are the only ones who will heed a call. Anything a watchmen says is addressed to them, because the world will take the pearls of knowledge and trample them into the ground and then turn and rend the speaker assunder.

I don't care what judgement happens to the sinners. That is their problem. They are ready to tear believers to shreds at any provocation, and they are being a trial to deal with. If God wants to pay them their just due, let it rip.

The only hope and joy left for believers is other believers and the promises of heaven. Most people are just being very difficult and trying to deal with. You have to have alot of patience, which is like a test and trial of fire, to survive dealing with them.

Anonymous said...

Sad day in the U.S., specifically, Connecticut as this truth hits us hard today.

Anonymous said...

Glad you made it home safe and sound. And many of us appreciate very much that you have outlined the message you spoke most recently, since many of us are not near enough to these events to attend.

I have to wonder about those well-meaning people who think all they have to do is pray for judgement to be averted. We all need to get into the Word deeply and often enough to KNOW WHAT IT SAYS ..... in particular,

Ezekiel 14:12-14, “The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.”

So I would take that to mean, those of us who sincerely try to walk the walk and live as we should, in a Sodom and Gomorrah like America has become, the most we can hope for is to be spared ourselves, and even then, like Lot, we may escape with nothing but the clothes on our backs. Given what life will be like after judgement falls, I really couldn't complain if I got taken out in the first volley of nuclear bombs.

I like the title of your latest Nutshell series - Reality Check. It's human nature to avoid unpleasant realities, but that only makes it worse when we get blindsided by them. Reality is not always pleasant, in fact as these times progress it will get less and less so. This is absolutely a needed message for the entire Body of Christ.