October 29, 2017
St. Paul’s Anglican Church
“Where is the God of Judgment?”
This morning’s lesson is from the final and concluding Book of the Old Testament – Malachi!
Whenever reading the Prophecy of Malachi, as we did together this morning, a melancholy tone is felt throughout – a deep grief quietly woven by the Spirit of the LORD through the hand of His servant.
It is not that courage is lacking in its pages! The Prophet Malachi had nerve, and was certainly moved by deep valor!
It is not that compassion is lacking in its pages! The kindness of the Almighty and the empathy of His spokesman are abundantly present.
It is not that consistency is lacking in its pages! The message of God through Malachi was the same message delivered through the other prophets! Repent from sin and return to the LORD to be saved.
The tone of the Book of Malachi is doleful because it marks the end of God’s communication with Israel of old! Seventeen centuries of God’s dealings with the descendants of Abraham came to a sudden and non-negotiable end. The Land of Israel fell into silence.
And the final question asked by God’s people – as if to justify their waywardness was this… Where is the God of judgment? As if to say, “Others have sinned the same sins – and worse – yet they have not been destroyed! In fact, they appear more fulfilled, more free, more prosperous.” Where is the God of judgment? But they were blind! They also said that the evil were good… and that God delighted in them!
I need not tell you just how common this question – this mindset, this perspective – is in our own day. It is everywhere! And this morning it calls out once again for a true and honest answer! Where is the God of judgment?
The answer furnished by Sigmund Freud (the father of modern psychology) was this: There is no God of judgment! He taught that God was an illusion, based on “the infantile need for a powerful father figure.” A crutch for the weak! On one occasion he testified proudly for all mankind to hear, and I quote:
“I stand in no awe whatever of the Almighty. If we were ever to meet I should have more reproaches to make to Him than He could make to me.” [Note: His “meeting day” is rapidly approaching, as it is for all of us! And now is the time to prepare.]
Where is the God of judgment? The answer furnished by the Universalists of our day is the same: There is no God of judgment! Salvation is universal, they say… because the Divine is totally inclusive! Every human soul will ultimately be reconciled to God out of His boundless love and mercy. To speak of a God of judgment is the opposite of being “inclusive.” His acceptance of all mankind reaches beyond national, cultural, and religious boundaries! This is a very popular and firmly-held view in our day!
Where is the God of judgment? The answer furnished by the Unitarians of our day is the same: There is no God of judgment! Unitarianism (which shows itself in the COEXIST bumper stickers we see across the Bay Area) is the opposite of Trinitarianism! It once held to a belief in a literal hell, but that drifted away! The Fatherhood of God is one with the Brotherhood of Man, we are told. His Name is synonymous with acceptance regardless of creed. To speak of God as a Judge is invalid, they say… because it maligns God’s character (as they define it) and veils the true nature of Jesus Christ (Whom they do not believe was His Only-Begotten Son).
In passing, it should be noted that these three answers to the question: Where is the God of judgment? – the Freudian reply, the Universalist reply, the Unitarian reply – are not found anywhere in the Bible! They are rather the soft and cushy answers of escape developed by men who chose not to face the truth! They are answers which have been refined across the ages by similar ilk – men who though we assume they were sincere and well-intended – were nonetheless fallen and subject to the limitations of fallen minds. What then is the Biblical answer to the question of old: Where is the God of judgment?
The Christian answer, of course, is that first, contrary to Sigmund Freud, God is! And He sees and He knows all things… just as Malachi set forth!
The Christian answer is that second, contrary to Universalists and Unitarians alike, God is the very same God of judgment as of old – as He revealed Himself to be! Who flooded the earth, for example. He has not changed one iota — and we can be very glad! He is the same yesterday, today and forever, according to the writer of the Book of Hebrews.
It is a sad fact (a very sad fact) that the mainline denominations in our own day have come to sound a lot like Freud, Universalists, and Unitarians! And those that have not veered quite that far afield generally avoid speaking of God as a Judge, because potential church-goers don’t (in their view) want to hear about such a God! So they deliver the order that has come to them!
But that the Scriptures teach of a place of eternal torment, marked by flames and wailing and gnashing of teeth, where the worm dieth not and where the fire is not quenched is undeniable. That the Bible tells of a terrible place known as the Lake of Fire, separated from the Presence of Christ (out of the reach of His mercy) is not in question. And of the fact that there is a God of judgment behind them there is no doubt!
What is in question is whether sinners will humble themselves and repent and return to the Lord (as He called His people in Malachi’s day to do)… or whether they will continue along their merry way.
It is a dangerous undertaking to replace the Words of God with our own…
Where is the God of judgment? He is sitting upon the same throne where He has always resided, judging aright. And Christians may take comfort and solace in the great meaning of history it undergirds!
He is sitting on the same throne from which the greatest display of judgment this world has ever known was viewed. For God’s undiluted judgment was meted out upon His only Son as His whipped and broken Body hung between Heaven and earth!
The God of judgment is still sitting upon the same throne where He has always resided… from whence He issued the words of St. Paul:
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Where is the God of judgment? He is still with us today… even this very morning! For He has told us that where two or three are gathered together in His Name, there is He in their midst.
He graciously invites us this day to repent and confess our sins to Him and to receive His clemency and His forgiveness. To approach His Table mindful of the suffering and the judgment which we have escaped through Christ’s substitutionary Sacrifice.
…to receive strength and grace through His Body and Blood that we may be found true and in some sense worthy of the high and noble calling to be Christians.
We should be very glad, indeed, that God still judges wickedness and evil! For what sort of world would we live in if He did not judge them?
So it was in the beginning. So has it always been. And so shall it ever be. World without end. Amen.