I want to invite you to, 1 Kings 21, and dismiss our 10, 11 year olds for their class. In 1 Kings 21, and I want to give you a little heads up on this because, we’re only going to look at eight verses in this chapter, and I’m going to use this really honestly to springboard. We’re going to look at what’s stated in this chapter and we’re going to springboard off this to talk about a difficult subject because Elijah is a prophet. And when you read about the prophets, especially in the Old Testament, what you see in their lives is, judgment. And some encouragement usually comes along with that. But with the judgment, often times God delivers that judgment and we’re left with, what do you do with that?
And when you read in 1 Kings 21, this is a challenging passage. God’s delivering some judgment here, and he’s delivering it on some of the wicked people of Israel, but nonetheless, it’s still judgment. If you read chapter 21, you start to see this story. This is the last time Elijah has written about in the book of 1 kings. We have one more time that we’re going to look at Elijah next week in 2 kings, and that will be for Elijah series. But when you read this in chapter 21, what you see is Ahab is upset because he wants a vineyard from Naboth. And, Ahab acts really like a baby in this moment. He asks Naboth if he could buy this land from him. And he says, “No”, and Ahab’s all distraught over this, he wants this land. And he’s really breaking Israel’s laws by trying to acquire this land. But Naboth says, “No”, he goes back and he just pouts, he refuses to eat, cries like a baby, and he goes and tells his wife, Jezebel, but acts more like his mother here.
“I’m not getting what I want, la, la, la …” It’s just a weird relationship they’ve got. And so she takes up the torch for him and writes a letter, and has Naboth killed. And so Ahab had gets his land. And so Elijah is given this message from the Lord on what to do about this circumstance. And in verse 17, this is what it says, “And the word of Lord came to Elijah, the Tishbite, saying, arise go down to meet Ahab, King of Israel, who is in Samaria. Behold, he’s in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone down to take possession of it. You shall speak to him saying, thus says the Lord, have you murdered and also taken possession? And you shall speak to him saying, thus says the Lord. And the place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth, the dogs will lick your blood, even yours.”
Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me?” So God tells this to Elijah, then Elijah goes to Ahab, and Ahab says to Elijah, “Have you found me oh my enemy?” And he answered, “I have found you because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold, I will bring evil upon you and I will utterly sweep you away, and I will cut you off from Ahab, every male, both bond and free in Israel. I’ll make your house like the house of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, and like the house Baasha, the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked me to anger and because you have made Israel sin. Jezebel also has the Lord spoken saying, the dogs will eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel, the one belonged to Ahab. Who dies in the city, the dogs will eat. And the one who dies in the field, the birds of heaven will eat.” Judgment.
Seeing this story got particularly pronouncing it on the leadership of Israel. This isn’t the only difficult statement, I think, God has given us in the midst of what’s happened in the life of Elijah. A few weeks ago, we were looking in 1 Kings 18, when Elijah goes to Mount Carmel, and Carmel is the only right way to say the word Carmel, right? We learned that. And, God brings fire down on a sacrifice Elijah is bringing on Mount Carmel. He’s in this competition with 850 false prophets of Baal and Asherah. And then there’s just Elijah up on this mountain and these false prophets, 850 of them, tried to call down fire to light their sacrifice, and Elijah calls down fire from heaven on behalf of the Lord, and God ignites his sacrifice.
And after that, in chapter 18, verse 40, Elijah immediately orders all the prophets to be captured, and taken down, and slaughtered. 850 of them. What do you do with passages like that? And this isn’t the first time God’s brought judgment on people. If you read in Deuteronomy 7:5, versus, Chapter 20, God calls Israel into the land of Canaan. He tells them, “Kill them all.” And some people look at passages like that, and they just sort of summarize it with theology like this, “I don’t like the God of the Old Testament, I sort of like the New Testament God, he’s loving and gracious. The Old Testament God, I don’t really know, don’t want that, don’t want to deal with that …” But, truthfully it’s the same God. Old and New Testament.
The difference is, Old Testament covers a span of 1500 years, and New Testament covers a span about 50 years. But even in the New Testament, when you read some of the stories, God strikes down Ananias and Sapphira. And when you read the book of Revelation, God comes back with a sword dipped in blood ready to make war. What do you do with that? I can tell you, why would I even talk about judgment, right? We like to avoid these passages. Well, it’s because I want to win the popularity contest today. Let’s talk about judgment. But, when it comes to judgment, without an understanding of it as it relates to the Bible, truthfully you won’t understand the Bible. It’s throughout scripture.
And so being able to understand what exactly do judgment and how this fits into our understanding of God, becomes important. And not only we not understand the Bible, when you think about Jesus, you’re just going to look at Jesus as if he does this little nice thing. All good little Jesus, pat him on his head one day when you meet him, you did some great stuff, Jesus. Right? Well, when we understand the significance of judgment and how it fits into scripture and what God wants us to perceive through judgment, and then you look at Jesus, you see a much bigger picture than just nice little good Jesus.
How do you deal with this? Is there any comfort? Are we just going to talk about bad things all day and walk out just with their heads hanging low? Who is this God? Is he a moral monster? There was a book written by a guy with the last name, Copan, as Paul Copan. And the book is actually titled, Is God a Moral Monster? He’s a theologian and teaches in Florida. Good book dealing with this issue. Ever wondered or wrestled with these thoughts as it relates to God?
Can I tell you, if you ever want to see that play out, the book of Psalms is a beautiful place where you see individuals wrestle with this thought. Here’s a God, holy, just, judging wickedness of the world, batting back and forth in the psalmist minds. How you reconcile the judgment of God and the injustice of this world and the goodness of who God is? And so, if you’ve even pondered this in your own mind in trying to figure out how this works, you’re not alone. This has happened throughout the course of scripture. And so to understand where this fits and the idea of who God is, I think at first becomes important to understand the nature of this God. What kind of God is he that judges? Is he good? We like a loving and gracious God.
And then we look at stories like this one with Ahab and Jezebel, or maybe the 850 prophets, or maybe God calling Israel into Canaan. And we wonder, how does this judgment fit? Is there a conflicting interest in who you are? But when you think about the character of God, let me just throw up a few popular verses as it relates to our understanding and his connection to working in this world, and the wickedness around us. In Ezekiel 18:23, it says this, “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked? Declares the Lord. Rather then that they should turn from his ways and live.”
So, what it’s saying in this passage of scripture, reveals God’s heart’s desire for wickedness in this world. God doesn’t create just for the purpose of just destroying. God doesn’t wake up and he’s like, “I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today, who can I crush?” Like that’s what Ezekiel was communicating to us is that, that’s not the mentality of God. God doesn’t all of a sudden just blow his living and go crazy, and just decide to off the cuff destroy things. That’s not what God’s about. In fact, he tells us he doesn’t delight in those things. Rather his heart is interested even in the heart of the wicked that they should turn. In 2 Peter 3:9, from a different perspective.
So you see God’s judgment here and God’s saying, “Look, my preference is a heart would change rather than judgment.” But in 2 Peter 3:9, the reverse of that. This is kind of interesting. As you see in this story, the church is being persecuted and they’re asking God, “God, where’s the judgment? We don’t like this persecution.” A little different for us in the Western world today, right? We like loving, gracious God, let’s not deal with judgment. And here you see in the first century church because of the tremendous persecution that they face, God where is it? They see it as a good thing.
And so in 2 Peter 3:9, it says, “The Lord is not slow about his promises.” Like, “God, where are you? We see you promising great things for your people.” But he’s saying, “Look, I haven’t forgotten. I’m not slow about these promises, some call it slowness, but look, this is what I am, I’m patient. I’m not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”
Even in Romans 5:8, it’s a great verse to Remember, God demonstrates his love toward us and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. So it puts us in that place of understanding like there is judgment and before God we aren’t perfect. And so what does God think about this? Well, God loves us in our sin, and in that sin Jesus still pursues us. So you see the nature of God just communicated to us, what God is like. Yes, there is judgment, yes there is a holy God, yes God will come against sin, and God is gracious. Now, how does all that fit?
When you read in Genesis 18:18, it happens multiple times in the beginning of Genesis, with the life of Abraham, where he says to us that through Abraham seed, all nations will be blessed. God cares about nations, and all nations there’re actually ethnicities, ethnic groups. In fact, God even wrote in Israel’s laws in, Leviticus 19:33 and 34, he writes laws on how to treat foreigners. And when he reminds them how to treat foreigners, he said, “Because you yourself were once in a foreign land, when you were in Egypt.”
God cares about people. He’s a God of love, and grace, and life, and calling us to him. And then when you consider his nature, then the question becomes, “Well, if this is God, how does that fit into the stories of the Bible? Do they conflict? And where does the goodness of this God meet with this judgment that’s being talked about?” Does God wake up angry killing people? I mean, that’s what we do, right? We get to a certain boiling point and you just explode. But is that how God handles things? When you begin to read scripture, if you were to say, “I’ll start this year”, and you started on the journey, “I’m going to read the whole Bible”, and you start with the book of Genesis.
You’ll see the first catastrophic judgment that happens is the story of Noah, and which is a horrible children’s story by the way. We always paint it like a beautiful boat with all these animals. It’s like, “No, everyone died.” I make the focal point about the animals on this book. But when you think about that story though, you see God’s judgment. What you see within the context of that story, we tend to tell that story, we tend to tell just the event like, God comes down judgment, there’s this rain, everyone dies. But on the back of that story, we see he’s a gracious, loving, patient, God. Because before God brings the flood, what God brings is a man named Enoch, a man named Methuselah, and a man named Noah. And the Bible doesn’t want you to miss these stories.
Could you imagine growing up in Noah’s day and you walk out, and you’re like, Noah is out there in the middle of the woods, building a boat. How in the world would you ever get a boat like that to water? And so you think, “I’m going to go talk to crazy Noah. I think he’s not using his funds well.” And you go to Noah and you’re like, “Noah, this is a massive boat in the middle of nowhere near water. What are you doing?” And Noah tells you, “God wants this world to turn. It’s wicked. There’s only three godly people in this world that follow him, Enoch, Methuselah and Noah. I’m building this boat because the flood is coming.”
Noah built this boat not for a day, but 100 years. How long does God need to be patient? And then, when you look at the life of Enoch and Methuselah, Enoch has a son named, Methuselah and his name literally means, after him comes judgment. And Enoch and Methuselah walk around and tell people, “Look, the Lord’s being gracious and patient. This wickedness is so corrupt.” And then all of a sudden, one day you just hear, “Enoch? Where’s Enoch?” He never died, God just came down and took him. “God just came down and took him?” “Yes.” But don’t be surprised, because he also named his son Methuselah, which means, after this comes judgment. And guess what? The Bible tells you about Methuselah. He was the oldest person to live. And when God tells you he’s the oldest person who lived, God is just not doing that for the Guinness Book of World Records. God’s doing that to display his infinite patient towards his people. 969 years, God is like, “Oh, here’s random trivia.” He was the oldest person ever. What God’s saying is, God is being patient and he’s allowing Methuselah to be the oldest person ever, so that hearts have opportunity to turn to him.
When you look in the life of the Canaanites, God sends Israel into the land of Canaan. And when you see the battles that take place with Joshua, God doesn’t just all of a sudden say, “You know what? I don’t like these people any more. Go and kill them all.” That’s not how the story works. If you just read it in this context, maybe that’s how it would be perceived if you just read the story itself, but what you see all the way back to the life of Abraham is for hundreds of years God has been saying to the Canaanites, “You’re wicked.” We didn’t study their wickedness together when we did a series on, A Day On The Sanctity Of Life, talking about how they worshiped the god of Moloch. They would take children, heat up this false idol and lay children in the hands of Moloch, and let them burn alive. And in order to drown out the screams of these children that would burn alive in his arms, they would beat drums louder.
You can find in these ancient regions, graveyards of not just hundreds, but thousands, of kids sacrificed to Moloch. And what does God do? He’s patient. In fact, in the life of Abraham, he says this, in the fourth generation he tells Abraham, “They will return here for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” And he says to Abraham, “Look, through you, I’m going to bless all nations. It’s going to be in the land of Canaan, but it’s not going to be right now because of the Amorites who were descendants of Canaan, their iniquity hasn’t reached this point yet.” And what God is saying here is like God’s not blowing off the cuff. God’s not all of a sudden going to wake up just angry and he’s like, “That’s it. Cant handle it anymore.” God’s judgment doesn’t work like that. God’s not surprised by anything that we do. God already knows what rests in the mind or the Canaanites.
And so what he says to Abraham and he says, he’s giving them time. Not this generation, but some generations to come we’re going to come back here. And when Israel goes into the land, in Deuteronomy, this is what God says, “Look guys, I’m not sending you in the land because your great, that’s not my purpose in sending you to this land. I’m sending you to this land because the time of this wickedness needs to end, the Canaanites and their practices have to stop.” And he says in Deuteronomy 9:5, “It is not for your righteousness or for your uprightness of your heart, that you’re going to possess their land.” He’s telling Israel, “That’s not why. It’s not because you’re great, but rather it’s because of the wickedness of these nations, that your Lord your God is driving them out before you.” And so God enters, and sends them into this land.
Even the story of Jonah. When God comes to Jonah, and he says, “Go to Babylon and share the story.” You know what Jonah does? “I’m not going to Babylon God. I’d rather be stuck on a ship or in the belly of a whale, than I would go tell Babylon. Because I know who you are. I’m going to go to Babylon, I’m going to pronounce judgment, and they’re going to find your grace and I’m not doing it. And Jonah goes to Babylon in the midst of the wickedness, and what happens? They turn. God just doesn’t wake up and destroy, God sends gracious message, after gracious message.
So when we consider God’s judgment in the midst of what takes place in these specific moments, yes, God delivers judgment. But on the back end of that, are hundreds of years of his patience. Message after message declaring to his people. And when God tells the Israelites to go to the land of Canaan and kill all the people in that land, I don’t think the context of the scripture actually means kill everyone there. I think it’s hyperbole in it’s language, just like sort of like saying today, “In Superbowl five years ago, the Seahawks killed the Broncos”, which they did, but they didn’t literally kill them. It was just devastating to watch. When your first play is safety at the back of the end zone.
I think it’s the same thing when God mentioned this in Deuteronomy, and the reason is because, if you read in Deuteronomy 20, when he tells them to go into this land, he’s not saying kill all people groups, or every person, rather he just wants to pronounce judgment. But if you read in Deuteronomy 20, if you flip over the very next chapter, Chapter 21, God talks about what happens if the Israelites marry in the land of Canaan, marry Canaanites. In fact, when you look at Jesus’s lineage, Rahab, Tamar, Ruth, they’re not from the tribe of Israel. God is not about just wiping people off for the sake of wiping people off, in fact, you’ll find in the Bible when people turn to the Lord, he relents.
And so let me just give you this conclusion. God’s judgment is not this, off the cuff thing, it is sobering, but it’s intentional, it’s patient, it’s purposeful. When God sends his prophets like Elijah, he was wanting to provide a place for a warning, but also to encourage the faithful. That things aren’t always going to be like this. As you see it in 2 Peter 3:9, God is long-suffering, God hasn’t forgotten you. And so it’s intended to encourage God’s faithful. To the unrepentant, God is gracious and he wants your hearts to find his grace into the follower of the Lord. God tells you over and over in this world, do not grow weary in doing good.
So when you look in this passage in 1 Kings 21, or you go back to 1 Kings 18:41, the prophets are destroyed, or the false prophets are destroyed. Yeah, I think it’s important to wrestle with these texts. If you look at these texts of scripture and you don’t wrestle with them, then something’s wrong with us, right? Life is important. We need to look at these and consider what exactly God is doing. Despite all the warnings of Canaan, what you find in 1 Kings 21, God tells us, all the Canaanites were wicked. In Deuteronomy 9:5, you’re going into land because of that. And despite all these warnings, what happens is Israel becomes corrupt. And in the midst of that, God even gives them laws, and in the midst of the laws, he tells them, “Don’t worship any other God.” But what’s Israel do? They worship false gods.
God even gives them laws for the prophets. He tells them in Deuteronomy 13, and Deuteronomy 18, if you have someone that claims to be a prophet and they lead you towards false gods or they make prophecies that don’t come true, they’re not real prophets. You need to take their lives, stone them. God is very clear in protecting his truth for Israel. And so what happens with Israel? Well, they go into the land, they embrace the false teaching, they create these false prophets. And the law tells them very clearly that, their lives can end right there because of that. It’s not a surprise, but what does God do? He’s patient. He brings a drought. He sends Elijah. Three years of a drought. Then he calls him on Mount Carmel, he brings down fire, he shows himself who he is. He reveals himself to Israel time and time again. And what did they do? They turn, and God judges. The patience of God is seen over and over in these stories.
Now, when we talk about God’s judgment, I think it’s important to know, like I said, that’s not our position. Right now, when you think about judgment, people often say, “Look, judge not, unless you be judged. You shouldn’t judge other people.” That’s what Christians will … They’ll try to quote some Bible verse, like … Biblically speaking, there are certain ways that it’s okay to judge. And the way it’s okay to judge is, God gave you some wisdom to discern. Like if you get too close to a cliff, you might fall off. It’s good to judge in the moment, not to be too close to that cliff, right? Judgment is a healthy thing, but we don’t judge in the sense that we put people beneath us. Never are people beneath us. That’s the wrong kind of judgment. Unless they’re Lakers fans, then do whatever you want. But, we don’t judge people in that way. That’s God’s position.
In fact, in the book of Jude, the ninth verse, Michael the Archangel, says, even to Satan, he won’t bring judgment against Satan that, that is God’s position because he’s holy, he’s just. When we do things like that our motives aren’t pure, only God’s motives are pure. So God’s judgment has purpose. It’s not uncontrollable rage, it’s a call really to initially to turn to him, and be forgiven in his grace. So when you think about judgment as it relates to us today, like some people ask the question, “If God is good, how can there be evil in this world?” And then you’ll read a story of God, how he shows up in the Old Testament, and then they ask the question, “How can there be a good God if he judges?” It’s like, wait a minute, the minute that you are asking, “Whereas this is good God, if there’s evil in the world?” And then when he shows up you’re like, “You’re an evil God. You can’t have it both ways.”
Irony of humanity sometimes, “How do you have a good God in an evil world?” I think it is important for us to be understanding with this thought, for God to be good he’s got to be a just judge. Otherwise, he can’t protect you. God has to be able to judge in some way at some point. Otherwise, any promise he gives, he has no power to provide it. If God says he’s going to eradicate sin one day for us and make this world new, and all bad things will pass away on. There’ll be no more pain, no more suffering, at some point, God has to have the ability to judge. Without that authority, he can’t provide the very things that he promises us. And so for God to be good, he has to be able to judge otherwise he cannot protect. He cannot be good. But when you think about this God who judges, I think it’s also important for us to consider how pure and holy, God’s judgment will be.
I think sometimes we fail to consider the purity of God’s judgment and appreciate the significance of Jesus because we often consider sin by the comparison game. If you look at the people around you and you’re not quite as bad as they are, so you must be in good standing. God will look at them, I’ll just sneak on by. That’s kind of how we think about, we play the comparison game, but when it comes to sin, God doesn’t compare us to each other. His standard is different. His standard is himself. And the Bible doesn’t make sense to us until you see his holiness in comparison to our sin. Jesus is coming for us, seems more like a nice idea rather than a necessity. But when you understand the significance of sin and you refer to Jesus as a savior in that sense, those words have tremendous meaning in the life of the believer. And let me give you a couple of examples of why.
When we sin, the person that we offend and the position of that person, weighs the significance of that sin. Let me give you an example. If my space of who I am enters into your space and my hand were to come up and violate your space by hitting you across the face, I could get in trouble for that. That’s an offense. I should not do that. Right? And if I’ve offended you in that way, that is wrong. But suppose that rather than it’s just a regular Joe down the street, suppose it’s a police officer, the extent of that punishment becomes higher. Now, I suppose rather than a police officer, it’s a dignitary or a ruler, maybe even a president, to attack someone in such a position that’s treason. That’s a violation against the country. Now suppose it’s the king of kings and Lord of Lords.
It’s interesting when you think about sin. Oftentimes when we think about sin in our own lives … Don’t worry, I’m going to get to some encouraging parts of this, but when you think about sin, when we consider sin in the heart of, say, my life. Oftentimes when I think about sin, I really only think about the significance of sin as it affects other people. I feel bad about a sin that I do when it hurts other people. I lied, it hurts someone, I feel bad. You read Psalm 51 in verse 3 and 4, David says something interesting in Psalm 51. That’s the song he wrote after his sin with Bathsheba, he killed Uriah, he has a child with Bathsheba.
And in that song, when he records his heart before the Lord, he says to God, “Lord, against you and you alone have I sinned”. Crazy phrase. Because when I sin, I think, “Oh no, look what I did to Uriah. I got to go apologize to the family. I’ll look what happened with Bathsheba, I need to go apologize to more people.” And then I’m apologetic for the effects of sin, but I’m not really ever apologetic in that sense to sin itself, and what makes sin a sin. If we just apologize for the effects of sin, it gives a reason to consider, do we ever really think about what sin truly is? When David murdered Uriah, what made that a sin is not that it hurt other people, or even took Uriah’s life? What made it a sin is that God is the creator of life. And by taking life, he violates the very one who gives life. What makes a sin, a sin, is that it always and first violates against God. Now it’ll affect our relationships with each other, but it’s always first an attack against God.
What makes lying wrong? It isn’t because people are hurt by the lie, is that God is truth. And he created us in his image. And so when we don’t tell the truth, we violate the one who created us in his image to be truth tellers. What makes sin a sin, it’s always first treason. It’s attack against the very God who created us in his image. Which makes the significance of sin. And our position before God, are very important to consider. Because now comes the question, “If God is going to judge, what are you going to bring? What can you do?” Because the standard beside you is no longer the person, but it’s now just you and the Lord. What can you offer to a God who can do everything for himself? There is nothing within you other than to cry out for mercy and grace. See, when we ask the question, “How can God allow evil?” Maybe what we should rather ask is, “Are you ready for God to judge?”
When we think about the story of the Canaanites, really honestly, their life becomes an illustration of every human’s heart. We’ve all wondered, we’ve all violated, we’ve all sinned. So where are you in relationship to God? 2 Peter 3:9, God is not avoiding his promises to you, but he’s being patient. Not Willing that any should perish, but all come to repentance. Are you ready for God to judge? Where is your heart before the Lord? I love the way Romans says it. I’m must read verse 32, I’ll read these other verses in just a minute, but this is where God in the midst of his judgment, also shows his patient grace with us. Look at this in verse 32, he who did not spare his own son but delivered him over for us all. God is just and he demands that everything will be accounted for.
But God also gives a place for you to experience his grace where he says, “Look, you can pay for it or I’m going to become flesh, and I’m willing to pay for it. What do you want? A kingdom for yourself where you pay, or a kingdom of this gracious God who has continued to pursue you to give his life for you, that you can find freedom in him. God’s justice will be paid. It’ll either be paid on Jesus or me.”
Romans 8, reminds us that, that’s the very reason Jesus came. And when you consider the magnitude of sin, as David said, “God against you and in you only have I sinned”, but in that place, God provides a place for your heart to find his grace. God in those moments say, he says, “I know and I love you, and I paid for this, and I forgive you.” God’s looking for that heart in turning to him. And so, God for us in these verses becomes incredibly patient towards us.
He tells us in Romans 8:28 and 8:31 he says, “For those in the Lord and we know that God causes all things to work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. What then shall we say of these things, if God is for us, who is against us?” And all that brokenness, Jesus meets us there and he provides for us to the extent where we can confidently say because of Jesus’s payment in our lives and embracing that payment for my life, I can confidently say that now I’m in Jesus. And everything in this world, if everything in this world goes against me, it’s really nothing against me because God is for me what else can stand against me? Nothing. Nothing can overcome the power of this God. And that’s the theme of Roman chapter 8. I don’t have the time to read all of that, but that’s what the author says to us, is nothing can overcome this in him. God provides a place to enjoy his presence away from the destruction of sin.
In my home I have two rules. And one of the blessings, I think, of the house where my wife and I live, especially the last few years, we’ve seen it as a resource for God to use. And we’ve seen a lot of people stay with us over the last few years especially. And we love having people over and I still tell the same thing to my kids, as we do have people that stay with us, two things I say, our home is always a safe place and you’ll always be loved. It’s always a safe place. If you’re ever a threat to that, you don’t belong here. And when you walk in that door, you’re always going to be loved. Now why is it like that? Is it because of the home itself? No.
The home just happens to be where it takes place. It’s not the home, it’s the authority for which the parents carry in the home. If for my kids, if my home doesn’t become that place for them, if I just let the world in to attack them, I’m not being a good father. But to provide that for them, that authority gives me that opportunity to provide that for him. And guys, when it comes to God, I would say the same thing that, what God is saying is this world will pass away. If you could go read, 2 Peter 3:9, God is long suffering to us. No one will perish, all come to repentance. He says, “This world is passing away. This world is in sin. This world will face judgment.” Jesus wants your heart. Jesus wants to make all things new. He can’t be a good God without his ability to judge. And when Jesus makes all things new, that place we call Heaven.
But what makes a Heaven, Heaven? It’s not the location. It’s never been about the location. It’s always been based on his authority. Heaven makes Heaven because he is a good God and able to judge. Or God makes Heaven because he’s a good God, and enable to judge. It’s him. So when you look at judgment, sometimes there’s fear related to that. Where am I in relationship to God? Well, the scripture tells us, “You don’t have to doubt, because Jesus came to free you.” And what God wants in his judgment is for you to be on the side of that judgment, that becomes your place of protection. That’s what the whole Bible is. This calling to your heart to know that God is getting rid of this world because it’s full of sin, and your heart wasn’t made to belong there, your heart was made to find newness and relationship with him, and he has come and he has given it all, that on the other side of his judgment, you could see his judgment as a place of protection in his home by his authority.
That’s why when you read the Psalms, the psalmist say over and over, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most high or rest in the shadow of the almighty, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust. When the psalmist talk about the goodness of God, they don’t just describe heaven. When they think about the goodness of God, they think about the authority of God himself because it’s in that authority that he provides that place. Rest in him. The whole of scripture communicates this patience of God. God is a just judge and he has the right to judge life at anytime. God doesn’t owe us anything and in that he’s gracious. From the times of Noah, to the Canaanites, to this very day, over and over the scripture says, “God is patient. God is patient.” Why?
He wants you in the richness of his forgiveness and grace. We can pay for our sins or Jesus can. God won’t force you, but he gives you the opportunity. As we think about Heaven and Hell and I need to end with this very quickly, but we think about Heaven and Hell so often our minds, we think about location. I don’t think that’s the way scripture paints it. I mean, yes, there is a location, but that’s secondary. What makes Heaven and Hell is the presence of God in your life. When you think about the picture of Heaven and Hell in Revelation 21, Jesus says like this about Heaven, “God himself will be among them. His presence. Wipe away every tear from their eye, no longer any death, no longer any mourning, nor crying, nor pain, the first is gone. They’ve passed away.”
And here’s what makes Hell, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, they’ll pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power. It’s the absence of his presence, his gracious presence. So I’ll say this decision of eternity is really about what kingdom you want to live for. You are Jesus. He’s Good, he loves you, he’s provided a place to experience that goodness away from everything that tears your soul. And as people we wrestle with that because we want control, and we don’t want to be near this Jesus. We would rather have it the hard way. And that’s what Thessalonians says, then you can be away from the presence of Jesus.
And In Luke Chapter 16, God will give it to you. Luke Chapter 16, Jesus tells a story there of the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus lived a hard life. The rich man lived a lavish life. And Luke describes, the lavish life that he led away from the lord making himself a king. He describes it as torment in eternity. He’s in torment. Sometimes we think about how people think about torture. The Bible never says that. Go look it up, it never says that. What it says is, torment. And here’s why.
Have you ever made a stupid decision and you realized it had an impact on people? And that night you try to go to bed. Why did I do that? Why did I turn from a hand that loved me so deeply to hurt it so dearly? In my own pride, I brought destruction. That’s what the Bible refers as to, as Hell, as destruction. And what we’re destroying is our very soul by the choices that we make and rejection of the one who wants to give us freedom and grace. Why do that? That’s torment. That was so loving, so good, he gave every thing. Why do that? When you study the rich man and Lazarus? Here’s the interesting thing about the rich man, he never tells us his name. Why? Oh, he wanted separation from God. He chose that. But Jesus, even still in the midst of sin, pursues us.
I want you to know this morning, wherever your heart is, God love you. God loves you from the beginning to the end of scripture, it is the proclamation of a king who wants to lavish his grace and goodness on you. And here’s what he asks. Give up your kingdom. And Jesus tells us, “He who wants to get everything in this world will lose a soul, but he who lays his life down will gain everything in him.” Give your life. Don’t believe the goodness of the kingdom that you proclaim for yourself because in the end it’s bankrupt. The wrath of the goodness of this God who desires to set you free. God against you, and you only have I sinned, but Jesus thank you. Thank you that your judgment comes, it does come in your perfect righteousness, and God in that righteousness you free the soul to find the grace and goodness for which it was created for.