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The Terror of the Lord

When God’s Forbearance With Evil Ends


Based on II Kings Chapter 2


Elisha’s heartbeat quickened.  It wouldn’t be long now.  His master would soon be taken from him and he would have to take up his ministry and his mantle.  What a weight of responsibility would rest on Elisha’s shoulders, to fill the place of such a spiritual giant!  Elijah, who had dared to show his weathered face at the pompous court of King Ahab and his wicked queen Jezebel.  Elisha would never forget the day Elijah wagged a bony finger in Ahab’s face, fire blazing in his indignant eyes, letting him know his death would be just as bloody as that of Naboth, a good and decent man executed on  trumped-up charges so  the  king and queen could seize his vineyard for themselves.


My, but Jezebel had gotten riled up.  How dare this raggedy preacher march his  dirty bare feet into their perfumed court and say things they didn’t want to hear!  Painted provocatively like a whore, Jezebel belonged to the demonic cult of Baal.  She had put a price on Elijah’s head after he ordered the execution of her 450 false prophets.    What holy boldness it took for Elijah had to loudly proclaim the vengeance of God upon rulers who caused Israel to go astray from Him!


Now that his master was about to leave him Elisha faced his moment of truth. Could he be just as courageous in the face of danger? Or would he be tempted to soft-pedal the hard words the Lord gave him to speak, just to prolong his own life?  Elijah had raised the dead.  He’d called  for fire to fall from heaven which killed the cream of the king’s honor guard.  He’d even  regulated the rainfall of Israel.  How, wondered  Elisha, could he  ever fill his master’s shoes!


Elijah was not long for this world, but surely his prophetic spirit must continue its ministry in the Promised Land.  Never before had it been more needed than now.  The light of God’s Word must not be completely quenched in this age of Israel’s apostasy.  All things were possible with the Great I Am, thought Elisha.  Perhaps if a double portion of Elijah’s spirit were to rest upon him, he could continue the work of his master with a holy boldness free from fear.


The day came when Elijah  must say a final farewell to Elisha. But before he left he would bestow upon Elisha any spiritual blessing he desired.  “All I want is a double portion of your spirit,” said Elisha. 


“That will take some doing,” Elijah let his apprentice prophet know. “But if you catch a good glimpse of me  when the chariots of God come down to take me away, and don’t take your eyes off me, you’ll get your wish.”


Elisha kept his eyes glued to Elijah ever step of their journey, lest he be caught off guard and lose his reward.  Then suddenly.....WHOOSH!  In all the blazing fullness of heavenly glory appeared a team of shining horses pulling the Glory Chariot which would bear Elijah up to his heavenly home.  Elisha wanted his blessing so much he did not shift his eyes to admire the dazzling horses or the elegant trappings on the gold chariot. Resolutely he watched his master soar upward, ever upward, till he appeared no bigger than a speck in the blue sky, then dissappeared in the heavens.


“My father,  my father, borne away in the Chariot of Israel by horsemen!” lamented Elisha, who tore his garment in grief over the loss of his beloved companion and mentor.  But his consolation was the mantle of Elijah which fell at his feet.  And so Elisha took up his master’s mantle, that he might continue his ministry. 


Could it be, hoped Elisha, that prophetic power still clung to the mantle of his master?  Elisha was not disappointed.  He came to the River Jordan.  Not a very wide river, but an obstacle nonetheless.  So Elisha  struck the water  with the mantle, the same as his master before him had done. And lo, it parted to let the prophet cross.


The Sons of the Prophets, students of a prophetic college established by Elijah, came out to greet Elisha.  They saw him wearing the rough mantle left behind by Elijah and knew that the very same Spirit of Prophecy which had been on Elijah now abode upon him.  These students bowed down to him in respect.


“We’ve got to go find your master,” they pleaded.  “We have fifty  men in tiptop physical condition willing to brave the hazards of the desert to go search for him.  Who knows but that  the Lord might have deposited Elijah on some mountaintop or in some desolate valley.  We’re only concerned for his safety.”


But Elisha knew where Elijah truly was.  “Don’t waste your time,” he told them.


“No, but we insist.”  A thorough search was made for Elijah throughout the land, but he was never found.  The men came back to Jericho where Elisha was staying, empty-handed. 


“Didn’t I tell you you needn’t bother to go  looking for him?” said Elisha, who must have been annoyed that these students of prophecy were so slow to believe in God’s ability to transport a living believer to heaven.


Word got around about Elijah’s  miracle exit from earth.  Even  the baser elements in Jericho got wind of it.  By now Israel, the Northern Kingdom, home of ten of the Twelve Tribes, had fallen into deep apostasy and idolatry.  Who knows what crummy parenting  gave rise to the behavior behind the great tragedy which resulted when God’s forbearance toward sinners was taken for granted.  But much is known about the type of sins which ruined the Israel of Elisha’s day.  Truly  it takes a villainous village to  raise a vile child! Let’s  take a hypothetical trip back in time to a seedy drinking dive in the dustbowl which was famished, flyblown Jericho:


“Hey,  Midian!” cried old Cainan, knocking back his fifth cup of wine.  “Solomon said there’s nothing new under the sun.  But they say old Elijah shot up into the sky  like a burning buzzard!”


Raucous laughter, and a hearty slap on the back by the bartender, who refilled  the men’s cups for another round.  Only a limited amount of a very old vintage was available at the tavern.  Nary a drop of rain for years, and grape vines were shrivelling up right and left.


Midian, a wizened reprobate, avowed that Elijah must be hiding in a cave somewhere, and people who believed in prophets were lunatics anyway.


“Better keep on their good side, though,” said Cainan.  He winked and gave one of the working girls a tickle. “My old lady tells me the flour barrel’s almost empty, and we’re all  gonna starve if the prophets don’t let it rain.”


“So we’ll water the fields with Ichabod’s wine!” yelled another bleary-eyed man.  “That’s all it’s good for!” Lusty cheers rose up  from men so degenerate they had not one iota of the fear of God in them. They were all so pickled they could care less about the future anymore.


“All right, Dathan, you’ve had enough!” cried Ichabod, who was tempted to throw him out into the street.  “Braying like a lovestruck jackass!”


As Dathan dared him to repeat that, Cainan peered over to at the door where his sixteen-year-old son stood with his big cohort of cronies, who ranged in age from ten to eighteen.


“You, there, Ichabod!”  young Hamor bellowed at the busy barkeeper.  “Bring out your best for us, and make it quick!  We’re all dying of thirst!”


“Hamor!” called Cainan.   This is a men’s club!  You all run on home right now or I’ll take a stick to you!”


Hamor grinned. “I saw you pinch that girl, Father!  You just wait till I tell Mother!  She’ll sick  her brothers on you to teach you a lesson you’ll never forget!”


Big, lumbering Cainan staggered to his feet to give his son what-for. He raised his hand but Hamor gestured toward his friends as if to say:  “Just try it.”


Cainan scrutinized his eldest son.  A cheeky brat he might be, but the gap-toothed scowl of defiance on his face reminded him of how he must have looked at the same age. Cainan’s sunburnt face relaxed into a grin.  Hopefully, Cainan could still  save face with his drinking mates.  “Son, you’re a boy after my own heart, the way you called  in reinforcements for the battle.  I really do like you, kid.  Get over here, boy, and we’ll see how much of a man you really are.  Ichabod, bring out your wickedest devil’s brew.”


Chuckling, Ichabod poured a big drink of wine for the son of his favorite patron,  strong stuff aged with absinthe. The burning brew set Hamor’s guts afire but he delighted all his friends by chugging it all down, then banging his mug onto the counter and clamoring for more.


When the boy stopped gagging and choking his indulgent dad shone with pride and said: “A true son of my loins. Tell you what, Hamor.  You and your good buddies here...well, you’re all men now, so hang around and watch the stag show with us.  And then, if you swear to keep our little secret from Mother, I’ll let you in on  a better one.”


* * * * *


The barroom skit was fictional, but the wicked attitudes of those barroom boors were very real and widespread in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. No one knows for sure just  how that gang of goonybirds found out about the prophet coming to town, but SOMEONE tipped them off to give them time to ambush Elisha.


* * * * *

Elisha left behind a blessing for his friends.  The watersprings of their city were so salty they were undrinkable.  And the salty  land was barren.  Elisha used a bit of salt and miracle faith to cure the waters, then left to  journey on to Bethel.  How profound his meditations on the marvel he’d just witnessed.  Who knows what glories his master was beholding in God’s own heavenly dwelling place?  Wonder and humility stirred  in Elisha’s heart.  Burning within him was a glowing adoration of the Majesty on High Who had actually chosen him for the honor of succeeding the Prophet Elijah.


Such a perfect, peaceful, holy moment.  Then a gang of youths appeared out of nowhere, 42 strong.  They  followed after Elisha, gyrating and cracking bad jokes, and making monkey faces. “OOK!  OOK!  OOK!  Lookie there!” they shouted.    Real macho punks just had to prove how cool they were. “Go up, you bald head!”  they yelled, again and again.


By now word of Elijah’s miraculous ascent into heaven had spread far and wide.  But not everyone embraced the news with a reverent spirit.  Sometimes pearls are cast before swine who turn around and trample them underfoot.


How like the devil to trespass on Holy Ground.  Just like a dog doing his business in the baptistery.  I understand.  You walk down the street communing with your Maker, and out of the blue your meditations are broken by the taunts of one of the devil’s disciples. Some hooded, ring-riddled devil on a skateboard   makes fun of your sparsely populated scalp and  mocks the saintly smile on your face.


Elisha saw red.  What a low blow.  Israelites, both men and women, took good care of their hair and baldness was considered an affliction. It was bad enough those dirtbags gave Elisha grief for a cosmetic flaw he could do nothing about,  but they were actually mocking the miraculous homecoming of God’s holy prophet.  A man who had suffered long with apostate Israel and who had striven in vain to woo idolaters back to the Lord with mighty demonstrations of the power of the Spirit of God.


Their mockery of Elijah’s ascent into heaven  was an offense against the Spirit who had empowered the  prophet throughout his ministry,  then taken him home to spare him physical death.  God had gone to great extremes to be patient with backsliding Israel.  But ever since they’d rebelled against the Davidic dynasty of Judah and formed a separate nation,  this stubborn people had  thrown God’s  goodness back in His face in contempt and gone a-whoring after other gods.


This was no time to turn the other cheek.  Elisha cursed those mockers in the Name of the Lord. Their laughter turned to shrieks of terror as two bears emerged from the forest to execute the righteous  judgment of God upon them.


When Forbearance Fails, Beware of For-BEAR-ance!


God wants the world to know his love is not some whimsical, gooey soft soap which wipes away each and every unrepented-of sin.  Jesus said:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  But sometimes sinners DO  know  they’re doing and out of a spirit of malice they’ll say something  to attack the Spirit of Christ within the believer.  Paul the Apostle knew that the only reason he’d been forgiven for persecuting Christ and attacking the Way of Salvation was he didn’t know any better ( I Tim. 1:13).  Take warning. Even now, in the sunset of this 2000-year-old  Age of Grace, there is a line beyond which God’s mercy will not stretch!


“Aw, that’s just for the Old Testament,”  some will say.  “Now God is a good God Who never loses His temper with anybody anymore. He’s  given himself an image makeover. He’s had a few rough edges polished off and had every hint of a frown airbrushed away.  He’s  comfy as an old shoe, and most importantly,  the epitome of political correctness.     God hates the sin but loves the sinner.  Besides,  sin is always a  matter of private interpretation, and who’s to say what the definition of “is” is?  Jesus is a God of Love.  He isn’t the same as  the angry, vengeful Deity of the Old Testament.


So God has been given a makeover by theological image consultants, has He? And gentle Jesus is way too nice to ever get mad? Then what about this Scripture?  Malachi 3:6 says:  I am the Lord, I change not (Malachi 3:6).  God did not say His nature would change from one Testament to the next.  And how does this fact relate to the nature of Christ?


This is God we’re talking about, not some chameleon which changes its image to blend into the scenery.  Jesus and God the Father are one (John 10:30; Phil. 2:6). Christ is the express image of the Person of God (Col.1:15; Hebrews 1:3) Jesus is the third Person of the Godhead, the human manifestation of Yahweh, the Old Testament Name of God, the perfectly Holy and Righteous One Who calls Himself the Great I Am. Just as God the Father is,  Jesus is the Great I AM.  Christ says in John 8:58:  Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am (compare with Exodus 3:14).


So does Jesus Himself predate the New Covenant of Grace?  A thousand times, yes!  Jesus was in the beginning (even before the Creation) with God the Father (John 1:1; John 17:5; verse 24).  If Scripture says Jesus and God are the same, it follows that Jesus doesn’t change, either.  Jesus Christ the same,  yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8).


If Jesus weren’t claiming to be God, He never would have shocked pious Jews of His generation by claiming to be the great I AM.  Let’s look at a few more Scriptures before reaching the conclusion that God in Christ will always be patient with sinners and no one ever need fear His wrath.  Even if God seems to have for a time set punishment of wicked and vile men on the back  burner, and   His mercy has taken center stage during this 2000-year-long Age of Grace. God destroyed the wicked city of Sodom in the days of Abraham (Gen.19:24-25;Jude 7). But the same horrible sins committed in that city are widespread in the earth today, as perverted sex saturates modern culture through TV, music, videos, and the Internet. It’s a wonder God has been so patient!


First I’ll address the popular belief that God in Christ has had a complete makeover and He simply wouldn’t ever get mad at anybody. What other Christ did Christendom come up with to take the place of the politically incorrect Lion of the Tribe of Judah? Gentle “Jesus”, meek and mild, sweet and tender like a child.  The pale, frail-looking  Jesus of  Sunday School flannelgraphs. A passive figurehead who watches over a dangerous, wicked world  through dreamy  eyes. Surely this imaginary Christ wouldn’t swat at a mosquito, much less send anybody to hell!


It’s a very good thing for us all that  God is Love ( I John 4: 8, 16).  But He  is also to be feared.  II Corinthinans 7:1 admonishes us to go on to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Hebrews 12:28-29 says:  Wherefore  we  receiving a  kingdom which  cannot  be moved, let  us have  grace, whereby  we  may serve God acceptably  with  reverence  and godly fear:  for our God is a consuming fire (KJV).***  We who receive God’s  kindness and love through Christ ought to treat that love with the utmost respect and be truly thankful He looks favorably upon us.


One popular misconception is this:  We’re in the New Testament Period now and every time someone wrongs us the Lord should let them get away with it.   In II Timothy 4:14-16 Paul mentions two scenarios where people have wronged him, but his response toward the two sets of offenders is different.  In verse 14 Paul says:  Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works.***  This mirrors words spoken by  Christ Himself in Revelation 2:21-23, where He has appeared to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos.  Christ, to Whom the Father has committed all judgment (John 5:22) is dealing with Jezebel, a false prophetess who is seducing Christians to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. He says of her: Behold, I will cast her into a bed (probably a sick bed) , and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and she repented not.  And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He which searches the reins and the hearts:  AND I WILL GIVE UNTO EVERY ONE OF YOU ACCORDING TO YOUR WORKS.  Jesus gave the Jezebel of the Thyatira church plenty of time to repent, but in the end He had to punish her as her righteous Judge.


Aw, why didn’t Paul ease up on  Alexander the coppersmith? Paul tells Timothy in II Tim. 4:15: Of whom be thou ware (beware) also; for he hath greatly withstood our words (our preachings).


Is Paul only overreacting to picky sermon critics who don’t know any better?  Back in I Timothy 19-20 we find that Paul has dealt with Alexander before. Paul exhorts Timothy to hold onto his faith and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck; of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.


Evidently Alexander had once known Christ but he has been spiritually shipwrecked by departing from the true faith. Paul states that Alexander is guilty of blasphemy, or speaking ungodly things about Christ. Enough to prompt Paul to exercise his apostolic authority to deliver him into satan’s hands for punishment, in order that Alexander might come to his senses and repent.  Paul did this at least once before in I Cor. 5:1-5.  A man in the church has slept with his father’s wife and Paul castigates the church for tolerating this gross sin.  In verse 5 Paul’s sentence on the man is:  To deliver such an one unto satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.


By the time Paul wrote his second Epistle to Timothy Alexander still hadn’t repented of his evil works, so Paul declares it fitting that the Lord reward him according to his works. Alexander, a former believer, had greatly opposed Paul’s preaching.  Alexander knew full well he was fighting the Holy Spirit and trying to hinder other souls from being saved.  Paul wasn’t taking a swipe at Alexander because he poked fun of his clothes or his hairdo.  Rather, Alexander had set himself up as an enemy of the Kingdom of God and was knowingly collaborating with God’s enemy, satan, in much the same way as people will side with the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation.


In II Tim. 4:16, right after he mentions Alexander, Paul says:  At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me:  I pray God it may not be laid to their charge.  To his everlasting credit, Paul views these offenders through eyes of mercy.  Other believers have deserted him when he needed a friend the most.  A despicable thing to do and a hard thing to forgive.  But perhaps Paul remembers how the Lord Jesus was deserted by his own disciples just before His crucifixion , even the fact Peter denied Christ three times.  Paul knows those other Christians are only human; weak and fallible, and possibly overcome by fear of persecution, just like Jesus’ disciples were when they deserted their Master in His own hour of trial.  Paul knows he also has committed some terrible sins in times past.  The cowardice of his erstwhile friends is evidence of immaturity and human fallibility, not necessarily of hard hostility toward the Gospel.  Those men, like all of us still in mortal flesh, needed mercy and the chance to grow into stronger, braver believers.  Paul prayed for God to be patient with them, knowing God has also had to be patient with him.  Jesus said in Matt. 5:7:  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.


God’s treatment of  individual sinners seems to hinge on individual degree of accountability based on their comprehension of the seriousness of their sin. Even in the Old Testament the Lord drew a distinction between people who sin out of ignorance and those who sin presumptuously because they despise the Word of the Lord (Numbers 15:29-31).


Before Paul the Apostle’s conversion he was known as Saul of Tarsus.  Saul was more zealous for the Law of Moses than his contemporaries (Gal. 1:13-14). But before he surrendered to Christ he had been  Christ’s worst persecutor (Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-6). Yet Paul says he obtained mercy of the Lord because he did it ignorantly, and in unbelief ( I Tim. 1:13). By contrast, Jesus consigned certain wicked Pharisees to hell because they deliberately insulted the Holy Spirit Who inspired His wonderful words and miracles (see Matt. 12:24-32).  If Paul had hounded the Christians because he  despised the Holy Spirit within them he would be in hell today.


In Romans 2:5-9 Paul, a former sinner saved by grace,  has this to say about hardened sinners: But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest (store) up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.


Does Jesus Deal Gently With ALL Sinners?


As He hung on the Cross Jesus prayed for his murderers.  He said:  Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do ( Luke 23:34).  Christians tend to fixate only on the first part of Christ’s statement and conclude that every time somebody wrongs us, even if it’s a very vicious violent crime, we should always, immediately “just forgive them and let it go”.  Just count it as nothing, no questions asked, because Jesus even forgave others for nailing Him to the Cross.  But why did Christ’s murderers receive immediate forgiveness?  BECAUSE THEY KNEW NOT WHAT THEY DID! 


Consider those who participated in the crucifixion of Christ.  Who were they?  Let’s begin with the mob who gathered together to demand that Pontius Pilate send Jesus to the Cross.  The mob was primarily composed of Jews who had been sold a lie by their own leaders.   The unbelieving priesthood as well as the hardened, Spirit-rejecting scribes and Pharisees referred to in Matt. 23:13. The scribes painstakingly reproduced copies of God’s Law without necessarily obeying the heart of it:  Love thy neighbor as thyself.  The Pharisees were the expounders of the Scriptures.  Whenever they deliberately misled people for their own personal advantage (like today’s politicians) they became the most dangerous of hypocrites, blind critics of Jesus.  They would lead their blind followers into the ditch (Matt. 15: 12-14). Jesus spends most of Matt. 23  giving the Pharisees a verbal whipping.  He pronounces doom upon them.   Matt. 23: 13:  But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men (hinder them from going in):  for neither ye go in yourselves, neither suffer (allow) ye them that are entering to go in.   In verse 33 Jesus warns them of their fate:  Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?  Jesus was furious with those who knowingly warred against His Spirit.  These evil men would lead others to hell with them.  They would whip up  the mob into such a frenzy that they would bay  for Jesus’  blood and cry:  His blood be on us and on our children (Matt. 27:20-25)!  Instead of being justified, or made righteous, through the precious Blood of Christ, these unbelievers would be guilty of shedding the Blood of Christ and suffer everlasting consequences.


Christ’s religious enemies persuaded the mob that they were doing God a service by crucifying Jesus (John 16:2). The ignorant, misled masses knew not what they did.  Some of them would be saved on the Day of Pentecost when Peter preached a rousing sermon to convince them they had wrongfully executed  Christ and they needed to receive Him as Savior.  They came under such deep conviction of the Spirit that they cried out for salvation (Acts 2:22-41).  But those religious leaders who had deliberately insulted the Holy Spirit could never be forgiven (see Matt. 12: 24-32).


What of the Roman soldiers who actually drove the nails through Christ’s wrists and feet?  These were battle-hardened men who had gone through such rigorous training they were impervious to the sight of death.  They were trained to be efficient killing machines on the battlefield and out in the provinces of the Roman Empire where order needed to be kept. Obedience to any and all orders of their superiors had been thoroughly drilled into them and insubordination was punishable by death.  The Romans’ ruthlessness as soldiers and occupiers had won them a vast empire. They, like the angry mob who had betrayed Christ to them, had been brainwashed by their own leaders to believe that cruelty toward Christ was necessary in order to  preserve order in society.


The leaders of Israel worried that since Jesus was working so many mighty miracles and many accepted Him as the promised Deliverer of Israel, they would be in BIG trouble if Jesus didn’t use some of His power to defeat the Romans, who would tolerate no rival kings to their own emperor.  Once Jesus made it clear He had no intention of waging a war of rebellion against the Roman occupiers of Judea, Caiphas, the High Priest, convinced his colleagues that it was necessary for Jesus to be turned over to the Romans in order that the whole Jewish nation be spared from Rome’s punishment (John 11:47-52). These blind leaders of the blind must have gotten even more nervous when in the next chapter, Jesus made His entry into Jerusalem, riding a humble donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9.


Jesus was hailed by jubilant crowds as he rode into Jerusalem (John 12:12-19). The people praised Him as the Son of David, or their long-awaited Deliverer (Messiah).  This procession must have made the Romans wonder what Jesus might do next.  To cross the mighty Roman Empire by proclaiming a brand new king taken from one of Rome’s subjugated provinces  was a very bold move. What the populace wanted Jesus to do wage war to liberate their homeland from Roman occupation. That was what the Jews  expected of their Messiah.  But in their eagerness to cast off the yoke of Roman servitude, the people were blind to their need to first be prepared for God’s Kingdom by being delivered from their sins (Matt.3:1-3). The people longed so much for the glory of the conquering Messiah that they forgot the humble Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 Who would offer up His life as an Atonement  to save them from sin and its consequences.  That was the purpose of Jesus’ First Coming.  At His Second Coming, Christ will indeed fight against His foes and establish His government throughout the earth (Isaiah 11:1-5; 32:1; Rev.19:11-21; 20:1-6).


Humility doesn’t impress some people.  But after Christ died with forgiving love and great courage, God showed His displeasure toward His exectutioners  by sending  darkness and a terrible earthquake.  Even the Roman centurion presiding over Christ’s crucifixion was  forced to admit that Jesus was truly the Son of God (Matt. 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:44-47).


At the precise moment of Christ’s death the Veil of the Temple, woven of very thick fabric,  was ripped from Top to Bottom, signifying that the Way into the Holiest Place of the Presence of the Lord was now open.  Christ’s sacrificial death had ended the enmity between God and all who would believe on Him, so that we can even enter boldly  into His Holy Presence in time of need  (Hebrews 4:16).


The chief priests ought to have understood the significance of the torn Temple veil.  They should have glorified God for His mercy in providing that Lamb Who came to atone for  the sins of the world (John 1:29). But instead of admitting they were wrong about the Carpenter from Nazareth, they paid the soldiers to say  His body had not been resurrected, only stolen ( Matt. 28:11-15).  After Christ’s ascent into heaven, those same priests persecuted Christ’s disciples (Acts 5:17-40).  Those cruel, crafty leaders of the blind rejected God’s Lamb of Atonement so they are roasting in hell today.


Countless criminals know that what they are doing is wrong.  It sickens me to hear news reports about gangs of thugs breaking into old people’s homes, assaulting them and robbing them of what little they have.  They know full well they’ll probably get away with it, and even if caught, tried and convicted, they’ll get little more than probation or community service.  When your child has been savagely beaten by bullies, and those lowlifes go around laughing about how they got away with it,  you can’t just pass out easy forgiveness like popcorn.  In those cases it is fitting to pray that God will mete out to the perpetrators the justice they won’t get from human judges.  Because punishment for crime doesn’t immediately follow, crime flourishes in today’s world (Eccl. 8:11). And verse 12 says it is even possible those wicked people might live out long lives. Dictator Robert Mugabe is in his eighties and looks far younger.  Consider the awful suffering he has brought upon his own nation. Even the worst sinners can live into their nineties and beyond. 


God’s mercy is refreshing rain upon a despairing soul.  But the danger lies in taking God’s mercy for granted. He is under no obligation to show the same degree of forbearance toward one sinner as another. The youths who taunted Elisha got for-BEAR-ance instead! That is extremely sad, but Scripture indicates that God might decide to show mercy to some and not to others.  In the days of Moses one guy got stoned to death for picking up firewood on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36). Centuries later, King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, then orchestrated the murder of her husband to get him out of the picture. David was punished less severely than the man who picked up sticks on the wrong day, because at least he didn’t die for his sin!  It is God’s prerogative to decide who lives and who dies, and so it is wise never to presume on His mercy.  Take comfort in the fact that God is gracious toward those whose hearts are set upon Him (I Sam.16:7).  So long as our heart is humble toward Him and dependent on the cleansing blood of Christ we can confidently turn toward Him to forgive us for our stumblings as human beings.


Mercy And Justice: Two Sides to God’s Nature


Surely, some will argue,  God’s nature has softened,  even toward hardened sinners.  But why should the God Who judges righteously become just like today’s slap-on-the-wrist judges if God is perfectly just, and especially  if He is the same yesterday, today, and forever? How wondrously true  that God is merciful.  When He revealed His Glory to Moses on Mt. Sinai, He made this proclamation about His nature:  The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.  Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that by no means will clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation (KJV). The only enigma  I see in this passage is that in later scriptures, God emphasizes inidividual, rather than family, accountability for sin.  Jeremiah 31: 29-30 speaks of a proverb about children suffering for the actions of their fathers:  In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge:  But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge. Again, in Ezekiel 18:20:  The soul that sinneth, it shall die.  The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son.


And again in Micah 1:3:  The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked (KJV).   In both passages we see no contradiction, but  two sides of God’s nature:  His mercy and His judgment.  God is slow to anger and ever merciful toward the repentant.  A sinner who comes to Christ in repentance can justly be forgiven by a Holy God because he trusts in Christ’s atonement to pay for his sins, and so his life gets washed clean by the precious Blood of Christ ( I Cor. 6:9-11; I Pet.1:18-19; Rev. 7:14).


John 8:3-11 tells of a woman seized in the act of adultery.  Her self-righteous accusers were certain Christ would agree to their stoning   her to death for her sin.  But Jesus didn’t see only the sin of the woman, but the hidden sins of her accusers.  She was spared the death penalty because Christ knew she was sorry for her sins and would trust in Him to save her.  Her accusers were blind to the seriousness of their own sins before God.  They failed to consider that if they didn’t trust in Christ for salvation they would die in their own sins.


Perhaps the key to harmonizing God’s two different declarations of who is doomed to bear God’s wrath for sin within families lies in Matt. 23:29-33.  Jesus is scolding some evil Pharisees who are hindering others from entering into Life Eternal.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites!  because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous.  And  say, if  we  had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers of them in the blood of the prophets.  Wherefore  ye  be  witnesses  unto yourselves, that ye  are the children of them which  killed  the  prophets.  Fill ye   up  then  the  measure of  your  fathers.  Ye serpents, ye  generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?


In most modern Western societies the individual is king, but ancient Jews, particularly, placed great importance on the cohesiveness of the family unit, so much so that several generations of the same family often lived together in the same close quarters.  A father passed his trade on down to his son, and usually arranged his son’s marriage for him. Strict obedience was expected of a man’s children and  wives.  Whenever the head of a family decided to commit a crime, the whole family was often implicated, possibly because few wives or children would have dared to cross the head of their household.  When Achan sinned against the Lord by taking concealing forbidden enemy contraband, the whole family got stoned to death, though this seems grossly unfair to us today (Joshua 7:16-26).


The problem with bragging about the dirty deeds of your ancestors lies in the fact that God counts it as a great sin to admire evildoers  (Romans 1:32). By admiring a sinner you  share in the other person’s guilt because  your heart is engaged in the sin even if your don’t actively commit it. Just like when Jesus said that looking upon a woman with lust is adultery of the heart (Matt. 5:27-28).


The Pharisees’ slippery slope to hell seems to have had its roots in acknowledging  the murderers of the Old Testament as their forefathers, rather than being ashamed of them.  They should have denounced those scounrels and renounced any connection with them.  That despite the fact Jews were fascinated with genealogy and it would have been a bitter pill to swallow, to admit that a few of the ancestors they’d admired for so long were ungodly rogues. But they put tradition and family pride first. Christ’s religious enemies refused to accept that God was manifesting Himself in Jesus, the humble Carpenter of Nazareth. In their eyes, He was a nobody, born of poor peasant stock.  These deluded souls preferred to hang onto the skeletons in their own family closets, since a fine pedigree was everything to them.


Reflection on their ancestor’s guilt in murdering the prophets should have filled the hearts of those men with godly fear and caused them to cry out to Jesus for mercy. They should have  faced the fact they needed to disown those murderous ancestors and sever all soul ties with them by faith. There are two sides to every coin. Just as it is essential to accept Christ by faith, you must also renounce the devil and other harmful associations by faith, even evil ancestors who served the devil and never received God’s forgiveness. Never ever brag or laugh about the wickedness committed by any of your forebears, lest satan seize upon that soul tie as an excuse to bring you under his dominion and oppress you. Rather, renounce all types of ancestor worship in the Name of Jesus, remembering that you are bought with a fearful price (I Cor.6:20;7:23).  Jesus told his disciples that the Way to Life is narrow and we are never to let family ties come between ourselves and Him.  Luke 14:26 says:  If any man come to me, and hate (love less) not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.


Apart from repentant faith in Christ , a sinner cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.  Any sinner who refuses to come to Christ to have his sins cleansed away remains an enemy of God, and the wrath of God still hangs over his head (John 3:36). And since the unrepentant sinner has refused to let Christ pay a sin debt he himself could not pay, God cannot acquit him of his debt of sin, and so he must  one day appear at the Great White Throne Judgment to answer for every dirty deed he has ever committed ( Rev. 20:11-13).


Christians Who Hurt Other Christians Hurt Christ


What about other Christian believers who sin against you?  Must you always look the other way and act like nothing’s happened?  No, at least not in every case.  Say you overhear a fellow believer spreading vicious lies about you  when he doesn’t think you’re listening.  Outwardly  you might act like it’s all water under the bridge and try to forget it and go on.  But you can no more keep the taint in the  atmosphere under wraps than you can hide the stench of a decaying skunk.  Unless your brother or sister repents your fellowship with that person is broken by  sin.  You cannot truly fellowship at the same communion table because in sinning so against you, that one has sinned against Christ Himself (Luke 10:16; I Cor. 11: 27-29).  The unity of the Body of Christ has been broken by a sin cherished and unrepented of. Jesus views a stubborn backslider as an unconverted heathen severed from the fellowship of the saints (Matt. 18:17).  If the offending brother or sister refuses to heed godly exhortations from church members or even from the whole assembly,  that one is to be disfellowshipped until genuine repentance for his sin is expressed (see Matt. 18:15-17).


Does God Avenge the Righteous?


Many think “gentle Jesus” would never take vengeance on anyone, even  hardened criminals.  But none other than the Lord Jesus is soon to return from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on God’s enemies, and on those who refuse to obey His Gospel.  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction ( I Thes. 1:7-10).  The bears will come out of the woods once more to consume criminals who mocked God’s offer of salvation in Christ and boasted they were out of the reach of all justice.


Is God indifferent to the cries of persecuted Christians around the world who are being martyred for their faith by cowardly enemies of Christ?  Did He ignore the dying cries of saints who were slain for their faith in Christ down through the ages?  Will the Judge of all the earth do right?  He surely will!


Deut. 32:35  To me belongeth vengeance and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.


Verse 41:  If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand shall take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. (Deut. 32:41).


Verse 42:  I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.


VERSE 43: Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.


How strange, rejoicing and divine vengeance in the same context.  God’s avenging of his servants is to be a cause for giving Glory to God, rather than regret.  Compare to a New Testament Scripture which exhorts God’s people to rejoice over the destruction of a corrupt world system which had cruelly persecuted them and shed their blood in martyrdom. This judgment is yet future, to take place before Christ assumes His rightful place as King over all the earth.


Revelation 18:20: Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. 


Notice, also, that both apostles and prophets join in the rejoicing.  This would contradict the widely-held belief that while it was permissible for Old Testament saints to rejoice in God’s judgment upon their foes because they didn’t know any better,   persecuted New Testament believers should never desire to be vindicated by God’s righteous judgment upon their oppressors.


Why do I take issue with that popular belief? One reason lies in Revelation 6: 9-11. The souls of those martyred for their faith assemble beneath the altar of God in heaven crying out:  “How long, O Lord, Holy and True, dost thou not avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”   Rather than finding fault with these holy martyrs for asking Him that question, God gives them white robes (which symbolize righteousness) and tells them they must rest a season until all those destined to be martyrs are likewise killed.  Then the vengeance would be poured out upon wicked earth.


 Another reason I feel the day will come for New Testament believers to glorify God for His perfect executed justice is this: In Revelation Chapter 18:20  both apostles and prophets are exhorted to glorify God for the perfect justice He has just poured out upon wicked Babylon, an evil world system which has shed the blood of the righteous. While prophets are found in both Old and New Testaments,  the apostle is exclusively an office of the Church.  The word “apostle” is derived from the Greek “apostolos”, which means an ambassador, or one sent forth in the service of Christ. Except for Christ’s original disciples, the Jewish nation did not evangelize the world to fulfill their calling to be a light unto the nations (Isaiah 49:6).  Although they might   accept converts to Judaism, Israelites mostly kept themselves to themselves until they were driven out of the Promised Land by conquerers.  The apostle hails from the New Testament period. 


While Christians are duty-bound to love their persecutors in this present life because they could be candidates for salvation, it will not be their duty to love persecutors in the world to come.  Jonathan Edwards,, one of the greatest evangelists in American history, wrote two sermons that made me shiver when I studied them: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and The End of the Wicked Contemplated by the Righteous.  In the latter sermon Edwards  explicitly stated: “It is now our duty to love all men, though they are wicked; but it will not be a duty to love wicked men hereafter.  Christ, by many precepts in his word, hath made it our duty to love all men.  We are commanded to love wicked men, and our enemies and persecutors.  But this command doth not extend to the saints in glory, with respect to the damned in hell.”


At the time of the Apocalypse it will be fully manifest that the  unnrepentant who perish in the seal, bowl and vial judgments poured out of heaven by an angry God are vessels fitted to destruction (Romans 9:22). Then their only reason for existence  will be this:  to be receptacles of the fierce wrath of God poured into them, undiluted by mercy or restraint!  Having allied themselves with the evil Antichrist of the Tribulation Period, they will have sold their souls to satan and will  have no further opportunity or desire for repentance.


More Scriptures Which Warn  of the Fierceness of God’s Wrath


Isaiah 13:11: And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity, and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.


Isaiah 26:20-21:  Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.  For behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity:  the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.


Jeremiah 25:29:  For lo, I begin to bring evil on this city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished?  Ye shall not be unpunished:  for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of Hosts.


Verse 30:  Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.


Verse 31:  A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD  hath a controversy  (dispute) with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD.


Verse 32:  Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.  (Could this be an ancient prophet’s description of a  nuclear blast?  If so, it is indeed a prophecy for the  future, since international nuclear warfare has not yet occurred on Planet Earth.)


 Verse 33:  And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth:  they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.


Nahum 1: 2:  God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. (This, despite the fact the next verse declares that the LORD is slow to anger. Yet there is no contradiction.  God’s long patience with this sinful planet  is not infinite, and the day of judgment against ungodly mankind will come.)


Malachi 4:1:  For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.


Deut. 32: 39:  See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me:  I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal:  neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.


Verse 40: For I lift up my hand unto heaven and say, I live for ever.


Verse 41: If I whet my glittering sword and my hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.


Verse 42: I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.


Verse 43:  Rejoice, O ye nations with his people:  for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful to his land, and to his people.

Parallel verse in New Testament:  Revelation 18:20:  Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.


Isaiah 11:4: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.


Isaiah 63:1:  Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?  this is that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength?  I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.


Verse 2:  Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?


Verse 3: I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me:  for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.


Verse 4: For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.


Verse 5:  And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold:  therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me, and my fury, it upheld me.


verse 6:  And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.


Parallel Wrath Passages in New Testament


Revelation 14:19: And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the  great winepress of the wrath of God.


Verse 20:  And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.


Revelation 19:11:  And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.


Verse 12:  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.


Verse 13:  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood:  and his name is called the Word of God (see John 1:1 and I John I:1).


Verse 14:  And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.


Verse 15:  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations:  and he shall rule them with a rod of iron:  and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.


Verse 16:  And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.


Matt. 10:28:  And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul:  but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.


Luke 12:4:  And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.


Verse 5:  But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear.  Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.




Luke 19:27:  But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me.


John 2:13:  And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.


Verse 14:  And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:


Verse 15:  And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;


Verse 16:  And said unto them thaty sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise;


Verse 17:  And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. 


Matt. 24:48:  (Jesus speaking):  But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming;


Verse 49:  and shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;


Verse 50:  The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of.


Verse 51:  And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites:  there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.




Matt. 25:41:  Then shall he (Jesus) say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:


Verse 42:  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink.


Verse 43:  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in:  naked, and ye clothed me not:  sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.


Verse 44:  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?


Verse 45:  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.


Verse 46:  And these shall go away unto everlasting punishment:  but the righteous into life eternal.




If, as we established earlier, Jesus and His Father are One and the same God, and have been since before the creation of the world, Who is going to pour out the just wrath of God upon unrepentant sinners in the Day of Judgment?




I I  Thess. 1: 7:  And to you who are troubled (persecuted) rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,


Verse 8:  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:


Verse 9:  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power;


Verse 10:  When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.


Rev. 6: 15:  And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond man, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;


Verse 16  And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:


Verse 17:  For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?


Rev. 14:9: And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast (Antichrist) and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead or in his hand,


Verse 10:  The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; (note: This speaks of the vessels of wrath appointed to destruction) and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb (Jesus).


Verse 11:  And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.


Rev. 16: 1  And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. 


Verse 2: And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.


Verse 3:  And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea, and it became as the blood of a dead man:  and every living soul died in the sea.


Verse 4:  And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters, and they became blood.


Verse 5:  And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.


Verse 6:  For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink, for they are worthy.


Verse 7:  And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments. (note:  Remember, God the Father has committed ALL judgment unto His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and those who will not let Him be their Savior will have Him serve as their Judge unto eternal damnation).


Verse 8:  And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.


Verse 9:  And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues:  and they repented not to give him glory.


Verse 10:  And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness, and they gnawed their tongues for pain.


Verse 11:  And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.




Rev. 2:26:  And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:


Verse 27:  And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers:  even as I received of my Father.


Contrary to popular belief, Jesus is to be loved with proper reverence, not whimsical sentiment.  Far better to let Him love you dearly as one of His very own cherished people than to be dealt with harshly later on as one of His enemies.


People act like they can come to Christ any old time they feel like it.  But I believe that in each person’s life there’s an expiration date on Christ’s offer of salvation  known only to Himself. As II Corinthians 6:2 says:  For he saith,  I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.  This scripture is echoed in Isaiah 49:8:  Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee. If anybody thinks it’s his prerogative to decide which day of his life will be God’s chosen time to save him  from sin and its penalty, that’s the most dangerous form of Russian Roulette anybody can play.  The stakes couldn’t be higher:  either life in heaven with Jesus or eternity in a devil’s hell.


Hardly anybody ever stops to consider:  Jesus shed His blood to redeem sinners, but that blood is still God’s property to do with as He pleases.  It is only by sheer undeserved mercy that He decides to apply it to the heart of a repentant sinner to wash his heart whiter than snow.  It’s still HIS Blood.  As High Priest of heaven, Jesus presides over the sprinkling of it to wash away sins committed by sinners and backsliders.  So don’t patronize your local cathouse, then  assume you can always take a quick dip in the Blood to disinfect yourself after you’ve had your fun and things will be all right afterward. That’s reducing God’s grace to the same level as popping penicillins after a wild night out to protect your health. That attitude amounts to:  “Well, the night’s over, I’ve gotta go to my heavenly Blood bank to get an antidote for  ‘Go-to-hell-itis’.  Just in case I get run over by a pickup truck before I go see my sweetie again.”


Now I’m going to address a sticky question. Lots of people bank on “Once-saved-always-saved”. But don’t bank on getting an easy antidote to sin and its consequences from Christ’s heavenly Blood Bank  when you decide you’re tired of one-night stands and  all-night boozers.  In  I Samuel 3: 10-14 we read where God is so disgusted by the actions and attitude of a family of priests that He refuses to allow their sin of their house to be purged away by sacrifice ever again.  Eli the priest’s two wild sons treated the animal sacrifices of the Lord with contempt.  They would threaten worshippers with violence so they could steal the raw meat off pot hooks to gratify greedy Eli’s lust for roast meat, or possibly they might have run their own    illicit butcher business on the side. But their trespass against the Lord involved much more. It was a spiritual sin.  In Old Testament times, offering animal sacrifices was an outward ritual which reflected faith in God as Redeemer from sin and its penalty. Old Testament sacrifices were sacred in the eyes of God, for they pointed toward Christ’s future, final Sacrifice of Himself. By profaning those temporary animal sacrifices those two boys severed their only  lifeline to eternal life.


Phineas and Hophni were among those counted by God as “vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction”, spoken of in Romans 1: 21-28, predestined to eternal perdition (I Peter 2:8).  God foreknew from the beginning that these two apostate priests would  trample underfoot His Covenant of mercy and salvation, so God had no other choice but to consign them to being vessels of wrath, that He might to pour out into them the unmitigated mixture of His dread wrath on the awful Day of Judgment spoken of in Revelation 20:11-15.  In that terrible day the books will be opened.  Now there might have been other men named “Phineas” or “Hophni” throughout the centuries, but the Book of Life will be thoroughly searched  for two particular men named “Phineas and Hophni” , who were sons of Eli, who ministered as High Priest during the Prophet Samuel’s youth.  They will not be found written in the Book of Life and so they will meet the same fate as other reprobates who had been temporarily raised from the dead...straight out of  hell, God’s death row for unrepentant sinners.  Then they will land in their final destination, the Lake of Fire, to burn with their evil father satan forever and ever.


Why Has Christ Been So Merciful?


Jesus offered Himself as a Sacrificial Lamb, Who willingly took upon Himself the sins of the world. Isaiah 53:6 says:  All we like sheep have gone astray.  We have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  Because Christ was suffering for our sins, He  did not defend Himself.  He could have called twelve legions of angels down from heaven to protect him (Matt. 26:53). Instead, He took our punishment.  His disciples shared in His sufferings. For two thousand years God’s people have borne patiently with privations, persecutions and afflictions so that God could call sinners unto Himself by demonstrating His love through His people. In the coming Kingdom Age it will be Paradise on earth, even for mortal man. At that time no believer will have to suffer persecution.


For those who love Him, God’s  mercy endures forever.  But God’s patience does not endure forever for sinners.  It is sheer folly to take it for granted.    In these last days before the appearing of Christ we see scoffers walking after their own lusts and saying in their own way: Where is the promise of his coming?  For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation (II Peter 3: 3-4).   Because sentence against an evil work  is not immediately executed, men’s hearts are set on doing evil, endlessly (Ecclesiastes 8:11).  And verse 12 says it is even possible those wicked people might live out long lives. 


The danger lies in taking God’s mercy for granted. He is under no obligation to show the same degree of forbearance  toward one sinner as another.The youths who taunted Elisha got for-BEAR-ance instead!


Today the Love of Jesus is the only aspect of His nature presented to lost sinners by many well-meaning evangelists.  Don’t get me wrong, we ALL need love, and nothing is greater than God’s love.  But we do people no favor by air-brushing Jesus to suit ourselves.  There is another, equally necessary, side to His nature, which will be fully manifest in the soon-coming judgments of Revelation. It is not enough to mention the sweet love of Jesus and the heaven that awaits the redeemed. People need to be told that they  expose themselves to the wrath of God by rejecting Christ, although that is a very unfashionable and very politically incorrect thing to do these days.  God will not settle for partial obedience.  Jude 23 says: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Paul says in II Corinthians 5:11:  Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.