Judgment or Mercy?
What a sharp contrast the Bible and history give us between Israel's rejection of God in the Old Testament and their rejection of Jesus in the New Testament and forward.
In His goodness God dealt with Israel's apostasy chronicled in the Old Testament Kings and Chronicles by scattering the Northern Kingdom among the nations of the known world. He allowed a foreign government, Babylon, to take the Southern Kingdom of Judah into captivity under Nebuchadnezzar. However, God counseled Judah through Jeremiah to go willingly and, once there, to carve out a life for themselves for the duration. They were to pray for their enemies, because it meant peace for subjugated Judah if their conquerors were blessed.
The book of Esther gives us a bird's-eye view of life in exile for the Jews. Persia, a later ruler over what had been Babylon, provided normal living conditions for Jews, but under the authority of an idolatrous nation. Esther was a product of being raised in an observant Jewish home within a pagan country. They were not persecuted and maintained their own identity as Jews.
During all the years of foreign nations' conquests beginning with Babylon and then its downfall to Medo-Persia, Israel was wonderfully protected by God's hand from bloodbath and extinction.
After more than 400 years of subjugation, Jesus came to the Jews! He lived among the Galileans for 30 years of His formative life and then walked throughout the land of Israel for the three years of His ministry. He came in human flesh and blood to once more reach out to the people who had rejected Him as their God to serve idols.
Israel was the nation He had singled out to be His own. Blinded by tradition and spiritual pride, the religious leaders of Jesus' day utterly rejected their Savior, finally calling a coup that executed their Salvation on the Cross. Jesus' final words: "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing!" held implications too horrific to plumb!
And, certainly they didn't fathom what lay ahead: Rome gutted the land in 70 AD and the revered Temple the Pharisees had chosen above Jesus was absolutely destroyed. The Jews were dispersed throughout the world, never again having a homeland until 1948. But how they have suffered in the centuries between!
Satan knew when Jesus died and rose again that he had been conquered and his power broken! His rage has known no limits since Calvary and the empty tomb, and the Jews have paid a price beyond imagination, culminating with the Holocaust! Little did the Pharisees of Jesus' day know what an awful curse they were bringing on the heads of their fellows coming behind.
Satan still rages, and the Bible describes the awful conditions on present-day earth in the devil's final desperation to wipe out the Jews and Christians who hold God's truth! One last super-battle will be fought on Israel's soil, a war so devastating the blood of the dead will flow in the streets and require seven months to bury the corpses!
Hebrews 10 says:
- For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (NASB)
America is a blessed nation. She was founded by followers of Jesus who sought freedom to worship God as they wished. For years America was the bastion of liberty and Christianity, admired by nations of the world. But we have forsaken and rejected our roots and apostatized from the truth God so generously revealed to our leaders. We, too, have rejected Jesus! How can we expect special treatment from God when we have exported such profligate rebellion and evil as abortion, sex trafficking and all forms of sexual lewdness, all against all the truth God taught us, but that we cast out of our schools, churches and public life?
America deserves God's judgment! The only expectation we can have for good is that God will be merciful to us for a season FOR HIS NAME'S SAKE!
- Therefore say to the house of Israel, "Thus says the Lord GOD, it is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.' I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD, "when I prove Myself Holy among you in their sight. I am not doing this for your sake," declares the Lord GOD, "let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!" "Then the nations that are left round about you will know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, the LORD, have spoken and will do it" (Ezekiel 36, NASB).
God still longs to save the nations and may still use America to make His name and power known! Let us pray for such mercy to be ours!