Andrew Fountain - Stories of God's Justice
Full sermon notes - Stories of God’s justice
- God reveals himself in the Bible through stories:
- The first story in the Bible is God’s power
- The second is his relationship with humans
- The third is about his justice
- A lot of people struggle with stories in the Old Testament of God’s judgement
- Sometimes women and children are wiped out as well
- How can a God of love do that?
- Is the Old Testament God a different one, an angry God?
1. Adam and Eve
- Adam and Eve break God’s command (Genesis 2)
- Then the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard,
- but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.”
- How did God respond?
- Fairness—the punishment matched the crime
- Consistency: they would die (immediately spiritually, and eventually physically)
- But he provided for them both physically and spiritually
2. Cain: Genesis 4
- So now, you are banished from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
- When you try to cultivate the ground it will no longer yield its best for you. You will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”
- Then Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is too great to endure!
- Look! You are driving me off the land today, and I must hide from your presence. I will be a homeless wanderer on the earth; whoever finds me will kill me.”
- But the LORD said to him, “All right then, if anyone kills Cain, Cain will be avenged seven times as much.” Then the LORD put a special mark on Cain so that no one who found him would strike him down.
- God is amazingly merciful to this murderer
3. The Flood: Genesis 6
- But the LORD saw that the wickedness of humankind had become great on the earth. Every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time.
- Judgement (but not a lot of detail about why)
4. Sodom & Gomorrah
- Going to spend some time on this because I think this story is giving us more insights so we can understand other judgements.
- When the men got up to leave, they looked out over Sodom. (Now Abraham was walking with them to see them on their way.)
- Then the Lord said, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?
- After all, Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations on the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using his name.
- I have chosen him so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then the Lord will give to Abraham what he promised him.”
- So the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so blatant
- The two men turned and headed toward Sodom, but Abraham was still standing before the Lord.
- Abraham approached and said, “Will you sweep away the godly along with the wicked?
- What if there are fifty godly people in the city? Will you really wipe it out and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it?
- Far be it from you to do such a thing — to kill the godly with the wicked, treating the godly and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is just?”
- So the Lord replied, “If I find in the city of Sodom fifty godly people, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
- Then Abraham asked, “Since I have undertaken to speak to the Lord (although I am but dust and ashes),
- what if there are five less than the fifty godly people? Will you destroy the whole city because five are lacking?” He replied, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
- Abraham spoke to him again, “What if forty are found there?” He replied, “I will not do it for the sake of the forty.”
- Then Abraham said, “May the Lord not be angry so that I may speak! What if thirty are found there?” He replied, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
- Abraham said, “Since I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty are found there?” He replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.”
- Finally Abraham said, “May the Lord not be angry so that I may speak just once more. What if ten are found there?” He replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”
- The Lord went on his way when he had finished speaking to Abraham. Then Abraham returned home.
- The two angels came to Sodom in the evening while Lot was sitting in the city’s gateway. When Lot saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face toward the ground.
- He said, “Here, my lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house. Stay the night and wash your feet. Then you can be on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they replied, “we’ll spend the night in the town square.”
- But he urged them persistently, so they turned aside with him and entered his house. He prepared a feast for them, including bread baked without yeast, and they ate.
- Before they could lie down to sleep, all the men — both young and old, from every part of the city of Sodom — surrounded the house.
- They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”
- There is no culture that condones gang rape—one of the most debased of crimes
- But notice that it emphasized all the men!!
- What about the women?
- As surely as I live, declares the sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never behaved as wickedly as you and your daughters have behaved.
- ” ‘See here — this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters had majesty, abundance of food, and enjoyed carefree ease, but they did not help the poor and needy.
- They were haughty and practiced abominable deeds before me. Therefore when I saw it I removed them.
- So although the sin of the women was not the same as the men, they abused the poor.
- What about the children? (later)
- What about Lot’s wife?
- Tell story—an important detail
- She actually belonged in the city!!
- God’s justice was with precision
5. Pharoh and Egypt
Image source: Fair Haven (Vermont) UCC
- Pharoh and Egypt
- 10 chances
- “But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants.” (Exo 9:34)
- Wilderness rebellion
- And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, (Exo 34:6)
- The Caananites
- This displeased Jonah terribly and he became very angry.
- He prayed to the Lord and said, “Oh, Lord, this is just what I thought would happen when I was in my own country. This is what I tried to prevent by attempting to escape to Tarshish! — because I knew that you are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy, and one who relents concerning threatened judgment.
- So now, Lord, kill me instead, because I would rather die than live!”
- The Lord said, “Are you really so very angry?”
- Jonah left the city and sat down east of it. He made a shelter for himself there and sat down under it in the shade to see what would happen to the city.
- The Lord God appointed a little plant and caused it to grow up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to rescue him from his misery. Now Jonah was very delighted about the little plant.
- So God sent a worm at dawn the next day, and it attacked the little plant so that it dried up.
- When the sun began to shine, God sent a hot east wind. So the sun beat down on Jonah’s head, and he grew faint. So he despaired of life, and said, “I would rather die than live!”
- God said to Jonah, “Are you really so very angry about the little plant?” And he said, “I am as angry as I could possibly be!”
- The Lord said, “You were upset about this little plant, something for which you have not worked nor did you do anything to make it grow. It grew up overnight and died the next day.
- Should I not be even more concerned about Nineveh, this enormous city? There are more than one hundred twenty thousand people in it who do not know right from wrong, as well as many animals!”
- The point of the story is God’s compassion for those who are innocent
9. The Exile
Was Jesus different?
- Jesus told us that he was the exact revelation of the character of the Father
10. Destruction of Jerusalem
- Luke 21 (prophecy of the Romans in AD 70)
- “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.
- Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those who are inside the city must depart. Those who are out in the country must not enter it,
- because these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.
- Jesus warned them there would be mass destruction
- But told them how to escape it
- Those who believed Jesus’ words escaped, those who didn’t were destroyed
- God always has been just, but he always has provided a way of forgiveness
- Those who chose the way of forgiveness were always completely healed and forgiven
- Those who didn’t were judged
- God’s way of forgiveness is Jesus
- If you ask him to forgive you and give your life to him, you will be forgiven
- If not, then you will have to face God’s justice
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:
Though your sins are as scarlet
they shall be as white as snow
Though they are red as as crimson,
they shall be as white as wool.”
- Have mercy on me, O God, because of your loyal love!
Because of your great compassion, wipe away my rebellious acts!
- Wash away my wrongdoing!
Cleanse me of my sin!
- For I am aware of my rebellious acts;
I am forever conscious of my sin.
- Against you — you above all — I have sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
So you are just when you confront me;
you are right when you condemn me.
- Look, I was guilty of sin from birth,
a sinner the moment my mother conceived me.
- Look, you desire integrity in the inner man;
you want me to possess wisdom.
- Sprinkle me with water and I will be pure;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
- Grant me the ultimate joy of being forgiven!
May the bones you crushed rejoice!
- Hide your face from my sins!
Wipe away all my guilt!
- Create for me a pure heart, O God!
Renew a resolute spirit within me!
Updated on 2013-06-18 by Andrew Fountain