One of the most difficult concepts for us today, is the judgment of God. If a God is loving, how could he judge? And why does it need to be so harsh, so complete?
When you read the book of Revelation the wrath of God takes on new dimensions. It is poured out on the earth in hailstorms, earthquakes, disease and wars which promise to end all wars. And then it ends in the resurrection of all the dead and people are judged. Some enter everlasting righteousness and some enter everlasting destruction. But why?
Wouldn’t a forgiving God just let it all go? That’s a great question and I’m not sure I have a complete answer. But I just finished reading “The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn. It’s a book with some interesting thoughts about nations, God’s purposes and even the nature of prophecy. In one chapter he speaks of judgment. Not just judgment on nations, but God’s judgment of sin. And the thought he proposes is this, it is the final and complete judgment of sin that puts a final and complete end to sin, so that the rest of eternity is freed from it’s presence.
In other words, without a final judgment, sin would linger. In fact, it would continue to grow in its impact. And eternity would be no different from what we have now. We would be cursed to live in a world that continues to hurt, destroy and devastate people.
What about Christ? In him, God judged our sin and punished it. That is why his death was so horrific and complete. It is enough for all. But we have to receive it, cling to it in faith. We must see our own inability to deal with sin and turn to the One who conquered it.
So, if judgment puts and end to sin, then the judgment of God is a necessary expression of grace. Everytime God punishes sin in the Bible, it is because He is working to limit the destructive power of sin. From Adam, to Achan, to Ananias and Saphira; from the Philistines to the Babylonians and Israelites, God is holding sin in check, so His purposes of redemption can be completed. And ultimately the last judgment is a work of grace, because if God didn’t judge, sin would continue and none would be free! Final judgment and the completion of sin is necessary for our eternal freedom.
Then, why doesn’t He just judge and get it over with? Because He is patient. He wants everyone to come to Christ and receive the benefits of the judgment that fell on Him. And this because He knows the freedom, fullness and joy that will come once the final judgment is complete.
Can you give God thanks for His judgment? Do you see it as antithetical to grace, or can you see it as an outworking of grace?