Does the Lord have an Opinion about what is Happening in the World?
The Lord does have an opinion and He has stated it clearly to us in His Word. God will eventually judge the world for its wickedness; but, do we know what will trigger the Lord’s final judgment? What sins will He judge? When will He judge? Why is He waiting to judge, and what should we be doing in the meantime while we are waiting for Him to take matters into His hands?
The New Testament Key
We like to view the “the God of the Old Testament” (OT) as mean and judgmental, but the God of the New Testament (NT) as merciful and long-suffering – which He is. But God has never changed His nature; Jesus Himself said “He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” John 14:9. God is eternal and a unity. His Spirit has been filling the universe since before the day of Adam’s creation in the Garden. God used to walk with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Genesis 3:8. His Son, who is co-equal with the Father in Power, but not in Position, made his appearance as a human in 4 B.C., or so, but He had appeared in theophanies many times in the OT, but the persons He appeared to did not know that He was God’s Son, but thought He was just an angel. The Father, of course, is never changing and He is the same God now as He was at creation.
So, turning to the NT, what will be the deciding point, in our days, which will finally cause the balances to be tipped to irretrievable judgment, leading to Jesus’ return? The verse is in Colossians 3:5-6, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come…” Paul is consistent, in listing these same causes in Ephesians 5:3-6, “But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named against you, as is proper among saints; and filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
Let us be clear that the wrath of God does not fall upon believers in Jesus who are obedient to His commands. There are two parts to this: The first is 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…”; but also, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8, “For after all, it is just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted…when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” God has not destined us for wrath; the wrath is to fall upon the sons of disobedience. But, I am concerned here, not with who is saved versus not, but are there causes that we can look for which will finally provoke God enough that His wrath will begin to fall, or fall more completely?
Even more importantly, Jesus’ own words spoken directly to the Apostle John confirm exactly what Paul had written likely 25 years earlier than John. In the book of Revelation, John is on Patmos, exiled there by the Roman Emperor Domitian. Why was he there? Because he had been sentenced to death by being thrown into a vat of burning oil, but had not died. Since his living was a rebuke to the Emperor’s authority and the law did not allow them to sentence a man to death twice, after the sentence had already been carried out, John was banished to Patmos, a Greek island off the coast of Turkey (Asia minor at the time) which had no one living on it except John. Food had to be brought into him by his friends.
While praying “on the Lord’s day” (Sunday, we assume) Jesus appeared to him in his glorified form. In Revelation 2:14, Jesus says, “But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit immorality.” Then, in Revelation 2:20, “But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants [“slaves”] astray, so that they commit immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” This is not an angel speaking to John; this is Jesus, and He is emphasizing the things that will cause Him to “… make war against them with the sword of My mouth” – to the Church of Pergamum, Revelation 2:12, 16; and to the Church of Thyatira, 2:18, “Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation unless they repent of her deeds.” Revelation 2:22.
In these four NT verses, written closer to the final judgment than any of the OT verses, by 500 years or so, there are three consistent sins that are mentioned, among the many that could have been: Immorality, which implies an action taken, of fornication, adultery, or sodomy; impurity, which implies a state of being, as from having an addiction to pornography, or to salacious books or movies, or dressing in a seductive manner so as to tempt another to sin; and greed or covetousness, which Paul likens to idolatry: the worship of money, or food, or power, or possessions, in excess of that which we need to be content.
The Old Testament Confirms the New Testament Key
Now, the title of my message is, Who is on the Lord’s side? – what is God’s side? Based on my preceding paragraph, God’s side is thus moral purity and being content with what God has given us, and not desiring more. In this, God is in earnest, and has given us examples in the Old Testament (OT) to further show how he views our actions in avoiding these sins.
First Things First
When the Jewish slaves came out of Egypt, God had to build them into His people, “…to be a people for His own possession…” Deuteronomy 4:20. His first leadings were to have them trust Him for survival from the Egyptian army, which he did by parting the “Red Sea” (Gulf of Aqaba, actually) to bring them safely to Midian, where he could train them up “in the way they should go”. The first thing He instructed them in was not the sacrificial system; nor the priestly system; nor the building of the Ark of the Covenant and the mobile Tabernacle. Instead, 50 days after they left Egypt on the first Passover, the Israelites, on the first Pentecost, received the 10 Commandments, when God came down on Mt. Sinai and spoke to all the people with His “voice” out of heaven, from the top of Mt. Sinai. So, the very first thing God was concerned about was the giving of heavenly laws, in order to cause His people to be able to be pleasing to God.
They had left Egypt on the Passover, the 14th day of the new first month which God designated for them, Exodus 12:2, 6; then, they had eaten unleavened bread for 7 days, Exodus 12:18-19; then, they must have eaten provisions they had brought with them. Three days (Exodus 15:22) after they crossed the Gulf of Aqaba, they came to Elim, where there were 70 date palms, so I assume they supplemented their diet with dates. Then, on the 15th day of the second month, so, a month and a day from when they left, the people first complained of having no food. Exodus 16:1-3. The next day, the Lord sent manna on the ground in the morning. But first, on the evening of the day they first complained about having no meat, God sent quails into the camp, then, the next morning the manna appeared. Exodus 16:4 and 13. The Lord had also provided water for them, in both Exodus 15:23-25 and Exodus 17:1-6.
Next, the Israelites experienced war, as Amalek came to fight against Israel at Rephidim, which is a place name for where Giants had been living. Joshua led Israel against Amalek, and, as long as Moses held his hands up, Israel prevailed, but when he let them down, Israel began to be defeated. So, Aaron and Hur held Moses’ arms up until the sun set and Joshua defeated Amalek. Exodus 17: 8-16. Then, in the 3rd month (but not after 3 months, for that would be at least 60 days) the Israelites came to Mt. Sinai. Exodus 19:1; it does not say on what day of the month. On the 3rd day after they had come there, the Lord said he would come down to talk to them all. The rabbis teach that the Law was given on Pentecost. We know that Pentecost is 50 days (“Pentecost” means fifty) after the Passover, and Passover is required to be celebrated on the 14th day of Nisan, the 1st month of Jewish calendar, so the Israelites would have camped in front of Sinai on the 47th day after leaving Egypt, which would be probably be the 1st day of the 3rd month, and on the 4th day of the 3rd month God was to appear. Example: If Passover was on April 14th, then God came down on Sinai on June 4th.
Now my first point was that God did not give Israel any commands at first. He got them out of Egypt; he got them to the Gulf of Aqaba; he got then across the Gulf by parting the waters; he provided water for them at Elim; and bread and meat fell before them everyday: “Give us our daily bread”, more than just that one day; and now He has brought them to His mountain to speak to them. What will He tell them? What is uppermost on His mind? It will not, as yet, be the sacrificial system (no sacrifices have been offered since the death of all the Egyptian firstborn sons), and there are, as yet, no high priests and they had not yet built the Ark of the Covenant and the mobile tabernacle. No, it is the basic laws of God, by which, at that time, “If a man obeys them, he will live”. Leviticus 18:5. These laws would be the first mention of God’s laws since Noah had gotten off the Ark and God had told him not to eat blood with the meat and not to allow a murderer to live. Before this, only man’s earthly laws had been given, chiefly by Hammurabi’s law to the Sumerians 1000 years before.
The People meet God
So, now, fifty days after they left Egypt (a very short time) God is ready to reveal His heart to them, so they they can be united with Him in spirit. He says to them, through Moses, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:4-6. Then God set out the rules for the meeting: “Go to the people and consecrate them…and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.” Exodus 19:10-11. “So, it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently.” Exodus 19:16-18. Then, there was an interlude, when God called Moses up to the top of the mountain, to again warn the people to stay back beyond the boundaries that had been set for their approach; and also to warn the priests (what priests?) not to go past the boundary either; and Moses reminded the Lord that he had already conveyed those instructions to the people and the priests. When Moses got back down, God spoke the Ten Commandments in a voice that the people could hear and understand, in Hebrew.
In the Commandments, the first three commands dealt with how the people should treat God: to recognize no God besides the one true God; not to worship idols; not to take God’s name in vain; then, to honor the Sabbath; to honor their father and mother; to not murder, commit adultery, steal, lie, and, finally, not to “covet” (or jealously desire anything the belongs to someone, their wife, their animals and any of his goods). These expressed for the first time, other than God’s two commands to Adam and Eve, and more commands to Noah and his family when they got off the ark, the very minimum that the Israelites, or any human being, could do and know that he was pleasing to God. God wanted to be treated respectfully and singularly by his people. he wanted his people to rest one day a week because He had rested on the 7th day after creating everything. He wanted his people to respect their parents, and then not to sin against their neighbor. These were not onerous on their face and a person who his set his heart on them could achieve them and be in relationship with God and his fellow man. Exodus 20:1-17.
The People Respond
What was the people’s response? “Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us…lest we die.'” Exodus 20:19. The people did not want to hear the voice of the God who created everything. Their statement was illogical and contrived; because they had already heard God speak and had not died. “So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.” Exodus 20:21. Then, in all of Exodus chapters 21, 22, 23 and 24, God told Moses many of the other 603 commandments that God gave the Jewish people. Then Moses came and told the people what God had said, and the people responded, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” Exodus 24:3. Then Moses wrote down everything God had told him, in Chapters 20 – 23, built an altar, offered sacrifices, took some of the blood of the sacrifice on the altar and left some in a bowl. Then he took the “book of the Covenant”, (Chapters 20 – 23) and read it to the people again, and the people again said, “All that the Lord has said, we will do, and we will be obedient!” Exodus 24:7. Then Moses took the blood from the bowl and sprinkled it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Chapters 20 – 23) Exodus 24:7. The presentment and reading of the “Old Covenant” that God made with Israel on Mount Sinai was arguably on the 51st day after the people had left Egypt. Finally, God invited Moses, then Moses, and Aaron and his two sons, and 70 elders of the people, to come up on the top of Mount Sinai and they ate a meal and drank with God. “…they saw the God of Israel”; and described the place under his feet there as “a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself.” Exodus 24:9-10. Now, they did not know that they were not seeing God the Father, “…for no man can see Me and live.” Exodus 33:20. Instead, they were seeing Jesus, who is also God, but they did not know it was Jesus.
The People Renege on their Promise
Finally, God, once again, tells Moses to come up to the top of the mountain, so God could give him the Ten Commandments written on stone that the Lord was to provide. Moses tells the elders to wait at the camp for Moses to come down. Moses himself waited at the bottom of the mountain for 6 days because the glory of the Lord covered the mountain and he could not walk up. On the 7th day, God told Moses to come up, and Moses was on the mountain with God 40 days and 40 nights. Exodus 24:12-18. Toward the end of the 40 days, as Moses had not reappeared, the people grew impatient; they wanted action. They somehow convinced Aaron to make them a molten calf; he fashioned it himself; must have been his work in the Egypt as a slave. The next day, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Exodus 32:1-6. But they weren’t playing soccer. Instead, they were engaging in sexual orgies before the golden calf. God told Moses on the top of the mountain that the people had done this and God said he would destroy them all. But Moses interceded with God not to do it and, “The Lord changed His mind…” Exodus 32: 8-14.
Moses went down the mountain as fast as an 80 year old could, who had not eaten or drank for 40 days; when Moses got to the bottom of the mountain he did three things: First, he broke the stone tablets that God himself had cut out and written on with His finger; Second, he had the golden calf ground into powder and scattered over some water (this may have happened on the following day); Third, he asked Aaron why he would have encouraged the people to sin and then, as the people of the camp must have been continuing to engage in sexual activity, Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me! And all the sons of Levi [before they had been given any special position as “Levites”] gathered to him.” Exodus 32:26. Moses said to the tribe of Levi, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’ So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed and about three thousand of the people fell that day.” Exodus 32:27.
So, what are we to do?
So, we come to our question, what does it mean to be “on the Lord’s side”, and who can demonstrate, in this very day, that he is on the Lord’s side? First, we must observe and know that the Old Testament (OT), was physical, and the New Testament (NT) is spiritual (the Holy Spirit lives in us and was poured out upon us). In the OT, the people had to sacrifice physical animals for their sins to be atoned; we have to only confess our sins to the Lord Jesus, who was killed to atone for our sins, and the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. In the OT, there was physical action; in the NT, there must be spiritual action.
So, now, let’s bring all the points together: The Lord brought the people out and gave them His basic 10 laws; only one of which involved sexual sin – adultery; although coveting could also involve lust. So, the Lord’s overall prohibitions were not just against sexual sin, but the judgments of the Levites upon their fellow Israelites was for their sexual immorality and their idol worship, they were judged by their own brothers for their sins. This is a type of the judgment that Paul had said, when we first started this talk, was going to be the cause of God’s wrath in the last days: sexual immorality and idol worship. So, the response of the Lord through Moses, and then the Levites, is consistent with the last days’ judgment that God himself will mete out, because “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip…” Deuteronomy 32:35. For us to be on the Lord’s side, we need to be outraged about the blatant sexual promiscuity, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bestiality, perversion, abortion, idol worship, satanic worship, devil worship, etc., that is happening all around us and all over the Internet and all over the world. If we are not outraged about these things, we are not on God’s side, for God is a God of justice.
This is no time to show mercy, but what can we do? “For all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” Matthew 26:52. What I learned, 40 years ago, was that we could only deal with what concerned us, in our sphere of influence: we instructed our children the best we could, I tried to avoid pornography and, when I did not, I asked God’s forgiveness; I wrote letters to the editor about unwise public decisions; I have had a bumper sticker on my car for 32 years that says “Abortion kills Babies”, from an organization that I got the tax exempt status for 35 years ago. As far as I know, they are the only organization still saying something like that. I pray for God to judge the wicked and wicked rulers; it is our spiritual responsibility, based on Psalm 101, about which I wrote a short book 7 years ago. So, the main thing is to first wake up, and rouse yourself, and see the immorality about us, as God sees it. He is angry; He is restraining His anger, “The Lord…is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. But judge He will, and it will be sudden; it won’t be universal; it will be upon the head of those committing the greatest immorality.