Keep the Feast

God tells gentile believers in Christ to keep Passover (1Co 5:7-8), the first of seven feasts in God’s annual celebration cycle. (Ex 12:2)

Since this command was initially given to a community living quite a distance from Israel, in an era when international travel was extremely slow and perilous, and since the prescribed location for correctly celebrating Passover is in Jerusalem, and since there’s no mention of them permanently relocating, the command implies there are valid ways to observe God’s feasts imprecisely, outside the Promised Land, apart from Levitical priests and the temple. Simply ask: which parts of each feast are we still able keep in our current circumstance?

Believers scattered abroad throughout the nations can’t keep everything about these feasts exactly as prescribed, but this appears to be inconsequential in the overall scheme of things. God has embedded prophetic pictures and rich symbolism within the rituals of each feast (Col 2:17), and evidently intends to systematically edify us as we engage each other in celebrating them as well as we can.

For example, the Passover Seder has enabled Jews to celebrate Passover for centuries without the temple, a sacrificial lamb or convening in Jerusalem. It enables us to retain the spirit and overall benefit of the feast for ourselves and families as we recount our deliverance from Egypt, God’s provision of blood in the paschal lamb to deliver us from spiritual death, the bitter herbs reminding us of our being freed from bondage to sin and the world (Ro 6:22), and unleavened bread symbolic of God’s call to holiness. (1Pe 1:16)

Christ adds that the unleavened bread of Passover is symbolic of His body, and that the cup of wine traditionally taken after the meal is symbolic of His blood. (Lk 22:20) Thus, He further enhances the meaning of Passover, telling us to continue celebrating this particular feast in remembrance of Him. (19) So, Passover, which is The Lord’s Supper (1Co 11:20), is one key way in which we’re to remember Christ and what He’s done for us. (1Co 11:25)

Similarly, we can keep the feast of Firstfruits in celebrating Christ’s Resurrection (1Co 15:20), and Pentecost to celebrate harvesting souls in God’s eternal redemption plan. (Ac 2:1) It’s no surprise that Christ fulfilled all three of God’s Spring feasts in His first coming. (Mt 5:17)

The Fall feasts evidently await their fulfillment in Christ: Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles are likewise packed with precious insights into God’s Way, work, and eternal plan. There is vast wealth here, the riches of Christ, to be mined through prayerful and obedient celebration of God’s amazing feasts, even though we cannot do this perfectly.

Most all of what God calls us to enjoy in these celebrations does not require a priest or an earthly temple. As we delight in each one with what opportunity we have (Ro 7:22), we align with celestial hosts celebrating with God about the true tabernacle in Heaven. (He 8:2)

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Thy Commands Are Righteousness

God says all His commandments are righteousness. (Ps 119:172) Of course, all God’s commandments are righteous (138), yet together they also compose the complete definition of moral perfection. Removing or neglecting any one of God’s commands yields an inferior standard; each of His laws reveals a facet of holiness, departure from which defines sin. (1Jn 3:4)

This explains why we ought not neglect any part of Torah (Ps 119:6), because doing so diminishes its full scope and impact in our lives. (Mt 5:19) God is love (1Jn 4:16), and every word from Him faithfully testifies of and reveals His love. (Ps 119:86)

Every single law in Torah hangs on, is derived from, the Laws of Love for God and Man (Mt 22:40); these commands help us understand love and guide us to walk in love. So, for as long as Love is not perfected in us all (1Jn 4:17), not even one small nuance of the law shall fail, or be discarded, or made obsolete. (18)

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Bound by the Law

The New Testament (NT) makes many references to Mosaic Law, Torah, repeating and reinforcing its commands. The Tanach (Old Testament) was the only inspired scripture in the days of the Apostles, who were zealous of Torah their entire lives (Ac 21:20); they quoted it often in their teaching, and based all of their doctrine upon it.

Some seeking to diminish the relevance of Torah today claim that only commands specifically called out in the NT are still relevant. This standard is, of course, arbitrarily imposed on scripture: it is not in scripture itself. Still, it’s enticing to those looking to ignore some part of Torah (Ps 119:6), unaware of the eternal consequences. (Mt 5:19)

The primary problem with this view is that Christ openly refutes it early in His earthly ministry, explicitly addressing this error and affirming the eternal validity and relevance of Torah in precise, unmistakable language. (17-18) Once we understand this, if we’re observant, we find the entire Tenach reinforced and upheld by apostolic teaching.

For example, Paul says we’re bound by Mosaic divorce laws (Ro 7:2-3, 1Co 7:39), and claims a law governing the treatment of oxen is intended for us all, instructing us in financing Christian ministry. (1Co 9:9-10) He commands us to avoid all uncleanness (Ep 5:3), which must include the types of uncleanness specified in Leviticus, and Peter appeals to gentile believers to live in holiness (1Pe_1:15-16) because God commands Israel to be holy. (Le 20:7)

Paul tells us the entire Tenach is given to thoroughly equip all believers to live godly lives. (2Ti 3:16-17), so the idea that some part of Torah is obsolete, or no longer relevant, is foreign to apostolic thinking; they rejected this error decisively and consistently (Ac 21:24), along with the apostle Paul. (Ro 3:31) The error took hold in the Church many decades after the apostles moved on to Glory, and persists quite widely until the present.

Even so, Paul asserts that Torah will be the universal standard by which Christ shall judge the world, stating that the entire world remains under its authority. (Ro 3:19) Yet, he also asserts that believers are under grace and not under Torah (Ro 6:14), raising the ultimate question: is the believer then free to sin, to violate Torah?

This is equivalent to asking if we’re required to stay within the protective guardrails of a canyon’s precipitous overlook. Only those with a death wish would even ask the question.

The answer is obvious, and Paul answers clearly: No (15), we’re not free to sin. Believers are not only obligated to obey Torah (16), we’re given a new nature which delights in Torah (7:22) and enables us to obey it. (Ro 5:21)

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On These Two Hang

As Christ explains the greatest commandment in God’s Law (Mt 22:36), He identifies it as loving God supremely, with everything we are and have. (37-38)

He adds that the 2nd most important command is similar: loving others as we love ourselves. (39)

Christ then says something striking: On these two hang all the law and the prophets. (40)

We do well ponder carefully what Christ means here; He is evidently describing the foundation of morality, how it all works, the principle interconnecting all moral precepts, the key to understanding the entire body of Scripture, as well as the essential nature of God Himself, and how we rightly relate with Him. (1Jn 4:16b)

For one law B to hang on another law A would mean A supports, is aligned with, and gives proper orientation and context to B. B derives its importance and relevance from A. So, Christ is telling us that the laws of love for God and Man uphold all the other laws of God and give them their relevance, importance and weight. (Mt 23:23)

Christ is saying all the commandments of God, every single law in Torah, and everything the Prophets say about them, derive from, are supported by, and reveal the Law of Love. Thus, to omit or neglect any law of Torah is to sin against Love.

It’s no wonder then when we find Christ emphasizing that those disobeying even what we think might be the least important commands of Torah will be least in His kingdom – for they’re ultimately violating Love. (Mt 5:19)

We can now more clearly see why it’s an error to try to divide up Torah into moral, civil, and ceremonial dimensions: since all of Torah is about Love, violating or dismissing any part of it is immoral (Ja 2:10) – the very definition of sin. (1Jn 3:4) God doesn’t give His people commands merely to make us distinct and different, or to distract or encumber us: all God’s commands are righteousness (Ps 119:172) — windows into what it means to love God, ourselves and each other.

So, we shouldn’t be asking if some obscure law relates to Love, but how: the goal of every nuance in Torah is to enable us more fully in Love (1Ti 1:5); those who miss this don’t yet understand Torah. (6-7)

Saying then that some of the laws in Torah are just for the Jews and not for all of us is really saying some part of Love isn’t for all of us; that God wants only the Jew to have the fullness of Love, that some dimension of Love is only for Israel. It’s really saying God loves the Jew more than the Gentile, and expects the Jew to love more, and to walk in a more complete definition and sense of His love than anyone else.

But God isn’t partial in Love (Ro 2:11); our national identity is irrelevant as it relates to Love (Ga 3:28); He’s making us all into one in Him (Jn 17:20-21), perfecting His love in us. (1Jn 4:12) God isn’t divided (1Co 1:13), and doesn’t divide His body up like this. (1Co 12:27)

The entire body of Torah is complete, perfect (Ps 19:7), consummately revealing Love, as well as the perfect character of God. If we add to His laws, or take anything away from them, for ourselves or for anyone else, either in our teaching or way of life, we’re obscuring the definition of Love. (De 4:2) So, again, it’s no surprise that Christ says Torah, in it’s entirety, will outlast Heaven and Earth. (Mt 5:18)

Love is for Jew and Gentile alike, for you and me alike. Love is the fulfilling of the Law (Ro 13:10) and the fulfilling of the Law is love — what it means to love God and others: it is to keep all His commands. (1Jn 5:3) There’s no difference between obeying God’s law and loving God and others: we can’t distinguish between them. Those who aren’t keeping all of God’s commands aren’t walking in love; they’re not walking with God as they should. (1Jn 2:4-5)

Let’s not leave any part of Love out of our lives, out of how we’re loving God, ourselves and each other. Anything other than obeying all of God’s law isn’t the fullness of Love.

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Thou Shalt Not Covet

Lust, especially for men, can be an uncomfortable topic. Finding a woman attractive and giving her more than a passing glance is commonly understood to be sin, equivalent to adultery. As men are primarily visually oriented, it’s no surprise that men struggle here; it’s the focus of many an accountability session.

Women, on the other hand, don’t seem to find the topic troublesome at all and seldom discuss it, other than perhaps in confronting men. Evidently, most of us have bought into the lie that it’s primarily a masculine concern.

But what if, as in so many other ways, we’ve made up our own definition of lust, cherry-picking verses out of context to suit ourselves, and overlooking the heart of scripture?

God clearly defines lust in the 10th commandment – Thou shalt not covet (Ro 7:7): we’re forbidden to desire what belongs to another, such that we’d wrongly dispossess them if given opportunity.

This is different than thinking it might be nice to have what our neighbor does. Clearly, if we like our neighbor’s boat and offer him a reasonable sum — this isn’t lust, it’s basic economics: there’s nothing unholy or unloving here.

The definition of lust implies it violates the law of love in some way. (Ro 13:9) So, if a man finds a woman attractive, enjoys her beauty as he would a sunset, and seeks her welfare, where’s the harm? But in entertaining a plan to entice her, knowing she’s married, he’s crossed a forbidden line. (Pr 5:20)

We must define lust in the context of God’s Law (Ro 7:7), not in the context of common sentiment. Changing the definition of sin is harmful on so many levels. Finding a woman attractive is perfectly natural and wholesome, but seeking to use or defile her definitely is: it violates Torah. (Pr 6:29)

And we must not focus simply on sexual desire; the precept relates to any unwholesome appetite: inappropriate diet (De 14:3), worldly attention and praise (Jn 12:43), materialism, the abuse or perversion of most any good thing. (Ep 2:3)

God has created us to enjoy beauty and pleasure, designing us specifically for this, and providing Himself as our ultimate satisfaction. (Ps 16:11) Unto the pure, all things are pure, but unto the defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled. (Tit 1:15) Yet some are weak by design, some through a soul wound, some taken by false teaching. Torah enables us to sort out what’s lawful from what’s merely taboo, and Christ offers us the wisdom to know how to build up and encourage others in joyful living for God without becoming overly focused on mechanics. (Ro 14:17)

God has given us richly all things to enjoy (1Ti 6:17), yet it’s better to forego than to encourage others to violate their conscience (1Co 8:12), or to bring a reproach on the name of Christ.

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Love Is Perfected

If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His love is perfected in us. (1Jn 4:12) God’s love is being perfected, or brought to completion in us, as we express God’s love to others. God is perfecting His love in us by loving others through us, for love is of God, from God: He is the ultimate source of love – the Author of love. (1Jn 4:7)

If we don’t love others then we don’t love God (1Jn 4:20), and if we don’t love God then we don’t know God. (1Jn 4:8)

It isn’t that we could ever earn God’s love by loving others; God’s love is unconditional: it can’t be earned. He loves everyone because He has made them in His image and chosen to love. We don’t grow in Christ’s love by trying harder and denying ourselves, but by beholding the glory of Christ as the Spirit transforms us from glory to glory. (1Co 3:18) As we behold the glory of Christ God reveals Himself in us and to us, until we know experientially His love for Man, filling us with all the fullness of God (Ep 3:19), enabling us to love others.

When we know and believe God’s love for us, since God Himself is love, and as we live each day receiving and expressing this love, we dwell in God and God in us. (1Jn 4:16)

Since love is so central, so fundamental in walking with God, He tells us clearly what His love for us looks like, and also what it means for us to love Him.

We might think loving God is a sentimental thing, a feeling of interest, pleasure or delight at the thought of God. While loving God naturally produces such feelings, it isn’t exactly the same thing, and this may be hard to fully grasp.

So, God explains that His love is much more than sentiment and feeling: His love is perfected in us as we keep His commands; if we don’t keep His commands we don’t love Him. (Jn 14:23)

Loving God is acting as if God is worthy, just and good; disobeying God is rejecting His authority, goodness and wisdom. In disobedience we’re despising Him, not loving Him; those who live like this don’t know Him (1Jn 2:4); it’s in obeying God that His love is perfected in us, accomplishing its purpose; it’s how we know we love Him and belong to Him. (1Jn 2:5) Earnestly obeying God from the heart is loving Him by definition. (1Jn 5:3a)

Torah itself is the perfect written expression of God’s love for us (Ps 19:7a), showing us how He loves us and unites us to Himself (He 8:10), how He transforms us to be in relationship with Himself (Ps 119:50,93); He gave us Torah for our good. (1Jn 5:3b) So, Torah defines both what loving God looks like, and also what God loving us looks like.

If we’re obeying Torah we’ll have no ill-will towards another (Ro 13:10), or envy or strife in our hearts (Ja 3:14-16); that’s not walking in love — it’s missing the mark altogether. (1Co 13:2)

While we harbor fear, fear of God’s displeasure because we’re willfully disobeying Him (He 10:26-27), or fearing and resenting His authority in our lives because we don’t believe He’s good (Is 33:14), or fearing what others might do to us because we doubt God’s sovereignty and justice (Mt 10:28), then we aren’t yet made perfect in love. (1Jn 4:18)

Obedience also isn’t merely about outward observance to ritual and mechanical rules; nor is it about honoring God with just our lips. If our hearts are far from Him, if we’re not in awe of Him (Ps 4:7), seeking His face, rejoicing in Him, loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, it isn’t obedience at all (De 6:5): it’s nothing. (Mt 15:8)

In living out God’s love, ordering our steps in His Word so iniquity has no dominion over us (Ps 119:33), the purpose of God’s love is accomplished, completed and perfected in us; this gives us boldness before God on Judgment Day because we’re living divine expressions, incarnations of God in this world. (1Jn 4:17) In so abiding in God we have confidence, and aren’t ashamed before Him at His coming. (1Jn 2:28)

Bringing all of these concepts together shows us God’s love has a purpose or a goal: to conform us to the image of Christ (Ro 8:29), the very goal of Torah. (1Ti 1:5) When we love God, we will want to be like Him (Mt 11:29), and walk as He walked. (1Jn 2:6)

Knowing God’s love for us enables us to walk in benevolence, mercy and love toward all, wishing ultimate good for everyone, as God does. (Mt 5:44-45) We don’t love because others are good, but because they’re made in the image of, and loved by perfect Goodness. (1Jn 4:21)

The more we behold and grasp the love of God, the more completely we’re able to display God’s heart towards others as He loves them through us. (Ro 5:5) We love Him, and therefore others, because He first loved us. (1Jn 4:19)

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Sound In Thy Statutes

God’s statutes are His laws, His commandments. (De 4:40) We ask God to cause our hearts to be sound in His statutes so we won’t be ashamed. (Ps 119:80)

To be sound in something is to be grounded, trained, established and rooted in it. It’s to be fully aligned and consistent with a standard or principle. If we’re sound in God’s statutes our entire lives are conformed to His laws. There is no area of our mind or heart set apart or estranged from God’s law. To the degree that we’re deliberately out of step with His ways we’ll be ashamed. Why is this so?

Shame comes when we sin intentionally, presumptuously, when we have the opportunity to do good and we choose not to. (Ja 4:17) Such guilt brings shame, knowing we deserve contempt and rejection, because there’s no excuse for such wickedness.

Rebellion against unjust, wicked laws can be understood, but not against perfectly just laws. (Ps 19:7) What explanation can be offered for willful ignorance, neglect or violation of God’s commands? If there’s no way of knowing about a law there’s mercy (1Ti 1:13), otherwise rebellion is exposed and dealt with. (Ro 2:5-6)

Since our hearts are naturally inclined against God’s laws (Ro 7:23), we do well to plead with God to direct our ways to keep His statutes (Ps 119:5), to teach us His statutes. (26) The godly tremble at the thought of displeasing Him, afraid of His righteous response to sin. (120) It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (He 10:31)

He’s already trodden down all who err from His statutes (118), who flagrantly and continually trample His laws underfoot — it’s as good as done. There’s no salvation for those who aren’t seeking His statutes (155), no mercy for those committed to rebellion. (He 10:28-29) Those who know Him keep His commands as well as they can. (1Jn 2:4)

As with learning a trade, a sport, or any discipline, we’re to pursue excellence in obedience (Php 1:10), training our souls unto godliness (1Ti 4:7), continually asking God to make us understand the way of His precepts (Ps 119:27) and to make us go in the path of His commands. (35) Without holiness, no one sees Him. (He 12:14)

As we learn God’s statutes our hearts rejoice (Ps 19:8) and our lips utter praise. (Ps 119:171) Suffering itself becomes a blessing to help us learn God’s statutes. (71) Our new nature delights in God’s laws (Ro 7:22); they become our songs (Ps 119:54) as we delight ourselves in them. (16)

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I Am JEHOVAH

When God reveals Himself to Moses at the burning bush, He introduces Himself as JEHOVAH (Yeh-ho-vaw, or Yah-weh). (Ex 6:4) Yet most of the time translators come to God’s name, in the Hebrew – YHWH, they refuse to translate it, rendering it the LORD. Why?

The choice is likely rooted in long-standing Jewish tradition to not pronounce the name of God, or to even write it, in order to avoid misusing it or taking God’s name in vain. (Ex 20:7) Yet this has resulted in obscuring God’s name altogether, such that there’s serious debate about how to even pronounce it, which doesn’t seem very good either; now, we’ll need to wait until He returns just to know for sure what His precious name sounds like.

This fact been bothering me for a while, that the KJV in particular has this problem most of the time, such that when I’m quoting scripture which contains the tetragrammaton I’ve been saying Jehovah; it seems to me the most respectful way to navigate this one. Personally, I’d be displeased if no one was willing to pronounce my name when talking about me or addressing me; I’d see it as a subtle way to dishonor me. So, in loving God fully I mustn’t do that which might dishonor Him.

However, recently, I noticed that when Paul quotes Ps 117:1 in Ro 15:11 he does the same thing, replacing YHWH with the Greek kurios: Lord. If Paul himself does this under inspiration, it appears reasonable for translators to do so as well. This is sufficiently conclusive to settle the matter for me; it just isn’t an issue.

Yet some argue that Paul wrote Romans in Hebrew, not Greek, claiming he didn’t actually translate God’s name; they’d claim the Greek kurios came to us later through a scribe, and it’s not inspired. But this doesn’t pass the sniff test: in Romans, Paul addresses Gentiles (Ro 11:13) as well as Jews (Ro 2:17), and Gentiles in that day weren’t expected to be fluent in Hebrew. Paul wouldn’t write a letter to a mixed Jew-Gentile congregation in a language many in his intended audience didn’t understand.

If the Pauline answer isn’t enough, the Gospel of John also follows this pattern (Jn 12:38), and was clearly not written in Hebrew – within the text itself John translates common Hebrew terms for his reader, such as rabbi (Jn 1:38) and messiah (41), and explains basic biblical feasts (Jn 6:4); this wouldn’t be the case if John wrote in Hebrew to a Jewish audience.

We should certainly be careful to respect God’s name, and it’s clear that God originally reveals His name in Hebrew. So, it certainly isn’t wrong to use His Hebrew name as well as we can, especially when quoting the Hebrew scriptures, and many of us prefer using God’s Hebrew names. But insisting that others do so, or that God’s name must be transliterated, or not replaced with the LORD, is inconsistent with God’s own manner of inspiring His Word.

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Horror Hath Taken Hold

Horror stories focus on shocking, intensely revolting, frightfully repugnant themes, the most unjust suffering imaginable, portraying evil in the extreme, often with a supernatural component. Imagery generally involves some grotesque distortion of humanity, and if innocent human suffering perpetrated by evil incarnate isn’t somehow part of the narrative it’s hard to see it as horror.

Interestingly, the psalmist describes a scene which fills him with horror, latching onto his soul and not letting go, taking hold of his inmost being: he contemplates the wicked forsaking God’s Law. (Ps 119:153) When he considers how evildoers neglect, dismiss, spurn, despise and reject God’s righteous standard, he finds it painfully revolting, repugnant and distasteful. (Pr 28:9)

Horror is perhaps the most intensely negative expression of emotion we have, and it even has a spiritual dimension, yet in this case it’s clearly over something most of us don’t find the least bit horrifying. The significance of this can hardly be overstated: we simply aren’t connecting with God at all on His terms; in other words, we haven’t a clue what either sin or God are really like. (Job 42:6)

The victim in this horrific scenario before the psalmist is evidently God Himself, Who’s grieved and angered by those who despise His Law. (Ge 6:6) We mortals aren’t typically horrified by disrespect for Torah because we lack divine perspective: we evaluate good and evil based on how it impacts human suffering; we have little appreciation for divine suffering. (Ep 4:30)

When we view horror from the human perspective we’re repulsed by offenses against mankind, but if we’re driven by God’s glory then crimes causing unjust suffering in God are infinitely more horrifying.

And the primary way we cause divine suffering is by trampling underfoot what God loves: Torah, His Son, the Word, all perfect expressions of God’s holy nature. (Ps 19:7) His attitude toward sin is reflected in the most intense suffering known to Man: the Cross. (Php 2:8) God knows about suffering, and He knows about it firsthand: He became sin for us. (2Co 5:21)

This is helping us identify what the psalmist calls the great transgression, a certain type of presumptuous sin he by all means intends to avoid. (Ps 19:13) Willful, deliberate, intentional transgression of Torah, done in open defiance of God, angers Him fiercely. (He 10:26-27) Yet when we sin so against God while claiming God Himself is unjust and unrighteous, when abundant proof of His mercy and benevolence and love abounds (29), we’re sinning on an altogether different level. (Ge 3:5) It’s the kind of sin the wicked pursue. (Jud 15)

Presumptuous, self-righteous sin, isn’t the creature merely in rebellion, but also exalting itself morally above the Creator in that rebellion (Ro 1:25), comprising the kind of intrinsic blasphemy we’re accustomed to on Earth (Job 15:16), but which is most appalling to those with Heavenly perspective. (Is 6:5)

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Thy Judgments Are Right

The goodness of God ensures His judgements are right (Ps 119:75); the righteous understand that any affliction or punishment He prescribes is perfectly appropriate, faithful and just, more than deserved. (67,71) To resist or complain when God afflicts us is to defiantly reject His goodness and claim He’s inherently malevolent and evil; it’s exalting ourselves above God, arrogant presumption of the highest order (Ps 19:13), insisting we know better. (Ge 3:22)

This includes all those suffering everlasting punishment (Mt 25:46); to believe in God and receive Him from there, from Hell itself, which the wicked should certainly still do (Re 22:17), is to acknowledge that all divine punishments are appropriate in response to offenses and crimes committed against God; the wicked shouldn’t complain against or resist the wrath of God, even from Hell. (Re 15:4) They should exclaim with all Heaven that God’s judgments are true and right. (Re 16:7)

However, the wicked will not do this (Ge 4:13), because the very wellspring of wickedness is the belief that God is not good, that He is unjust. (Ge 3:5) Even to escape the fires of Hell itself, the wicked won’t repent of this sin against God; they’ll stubbornly persist in it. (Re 6:16)

Consider the story Christ tells of a rich man in Hell, lifting up his eyes in torment, pleading with Abraham to relieve him in his misery. (Lk 16:23-24) He plays on mercy to tempt the righteous to do what God will not do, and thereby admit God’s justice is too severe. Yet Abraham aligns with God and refuses, reminding the rich man of his sins against God and Man, having profoundly neglected the helpless in their earthly suffering (21), and of the righteous consequences. (25)

The rich man’s next move is to again beg Abraham to do something else God will not do: send someone back from the dead just to warn his family to flee the wrath to come. (27-28) This is a second attack upon God, directed at His self-revelation, claiming it’s insufficient, again implying His punishments are unjust. Abraham again refuses, pointing out that his family has perfectly sufficient proof of God’s character and expectation: God has plainly revealed Himself in Torah and the Prophets. (29)

The rich man persists in his denial of the sufficiency of God’s provision, insisting that his family would repent and be saved if they witnessed such a spectacular miracle. (30) This is a third arrogant attack upon God, directed at His knowledge of Man: his presumption is that God is misinformed, that we’re mostly reasonable people, his family in particular, undeserving of eternal punishment; we simply lack sufficient warning to live in light of eternity. Yet Abraham remains faithful: God knows Man’s depraved heart and is revealing Himself to mankind accordingly.  (31)

What would God do if the wicked softened their hearts in Hell and acknowledged His goodness? If we know God well we know how He’d respond: His mercy is infinite toward those who fear Him. (Ps 103:11)

Why won’t the wicked honor God then, even from Hell? Why would anyone ever deliberately sin against God? This is indeed the true mystery, the mystery of iniquity (2Th 2:7): the desperate wickedness of Man; the godly are horrified by it; we may never fully understand it. (Je 17:9)

In repentance, regardless of our suffering at God’s hands (La 3:9), we admit to receiving the due reward of our deeds (Lk 23:41) and heed God’s warning to flee the wrath to come. (Lk 3:7) This is God’s gift to all who are willing to acknowledge that He is, and that He faithfully rewards all who diligently seek Him. (He 11:6)

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