“Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.” NKJV
There is much spoken of in the Church today about the love of God for man. That is as it should be. But it should also be pointed out that Nineveh, great city that it was, was destroyed 150 years later. God only relented during Jonah’s day because their wickedness was not yet complete.
We are told God had mercy because they repented and God explains in Jonah chapter four His own reasoning.
God knows us (Psalm 103:14). He knew us before we were born (Jeremiah 1:15; Psalm 139:13). He is there to comfort us when we weep and He mourns with us. He rejoices in our triumphs (Romans 12:15) just as our parents rejoiced with our first steps and our first words. He is a silent witness to our every word and deed both good and evil (Proverbs 15:3). He knows our thoughts (Psalm 139:2). He has counted the number of hairs upon our head (Luke 12:7) and watches over us as we sleep (Psalm 139:13).
God is invested deeply in every soul and it is not His will that any should perish but that all should have everlasting life (2 Peter 3:9).
This is the reason for God’s great mercy. It is why judgment comes so slowly. When it comes, it does not come willingly (Lamentations 3:33). It is a Father coming to the grudging realization that the son He loves must be destroyed for the good of all (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
The Law states that every judge must be a witness to the blood punishments He orders (Deuteronomy 25:1-3). The Law was not written for men but for God and Jesus Christ has fulfilled it and will fulfill it. I have become convinced that God laid out history and has chosen a most brutal course for Himself because it will produce a very great good that could not otherwise happen.
When I speak of the judgment of God, please understand that I am intensely aware that God is passionately in love with every soul that is facing condemnation and these words, His words, are the cry of a brokenhearted Father weeping over His wayward children who are on the path of destruction (Matthew 23:37-38).
I learned to test men and women when I served as a judge for a decade. I discovered how to find out what was really inside of people by reading my Bible and imitating God (Ephesians 5:1).
You see, God tests men to see what is in them (Job 7:18). He does it by putting forth a test and the outcome of the test reveals what is in the heart (Deuteronomy 8:2-20).
The other day while mulling the consequences once again of the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage, I felt the Lord speak to me saying, “Why do you fret so much? It is a shibboleth for judgment.”
If you are unfamiliar with a shibboleth, here is the story in the Old Testament:
5 The Gileadites seized the fords of the Jordan before the Ephraimites arrived. And when any Ephraimite who escaped said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,” 6 then they would say to him, “Then say, ‘Shibboleth’!” And he would say, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it right. Then they would take him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan. There fell at that time forty-two thousand Ephraimites. NKJV
We know when the Lord returns there will be a number of shibboleths by which He will judge: Anyone who takes the Mark of the Beast will join him in torment (Revelation 14:9-11); How people treat the Christian will also be a shibboleth, those who had compassion will enter the Millennium and those who hardened their hearts against them will be destroyed (Matthew 25:31-46).
God is setting forth His shibboleths in preparation for the return of the Lord and for judgment (Jeremiah 17:10).
Now I do not know how far off the Lord’s appearing shall be. I believe that we should all live as though He could return at any moment (Luke 12:35-48). But it seems to me that the Lord is not surprised at all and will turn the enemy’s work against him.
If Congress had passed a law requiring all homosexuals to go to the local courthouse and register their sexual preference, we would have all been appalled. Yet the effect of the decision from the Supreme Court will be the same.
The churn is coming and every evil work will be destroyed. Justice will flow like rivers (Amos 5:24) and it will be terrifying to the wicked (Amos 5:18-20).
God is love (1 John 4:8) but remember dear friends, God is also just (2 Thessalonians 1:6). He must reward the good and punish the bad. For the believer, this means reward for what we do for Him and loss of reward for the unrepentant sins that cling to us. For the wicked, it is far worse. God hardens his face and shows no pity (Deuteronomy 19:21). He strikes hard and does not relent (Isiah 63:1-6).
Some people believe they are Christians but the Lord warns us that many will come saying “Lord, Lord” and He will not accept them (Matthew 7:21).
They may never deny Him by their words, but they deny Him by their actions (Titus 1:16). And Jesus warned us carefully, “If you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).
God doesn’t lie. A word to the wise is sufficient but a hundred stripes will not persuade a fool (Proverbs 17:10).