“Judgement – to understand My judgement you must first understand My righteousness – I do everything perfectly right – My thoughts, My actions everything about Me is perfectly right – hence ‘righteousness’. Now everything – hear Me – everything that is not perfectly right is under My judgement. Now that is serious – my judgement is serious, therefore to demonstrate that, I have pronounced the death penalty on all sin – ALL SIN – all those who cannot live and act perfectly righteously like Me, are under the death penalty – serious ! That is why Jesus had to die – He took that death penalty upon Himself – so that you could be declared righteous – despite your errant thoughts and behaviour – once you are ‘in Jesus’ you are free – free from My judgement – declared righteous – because of HIS behaviour and action.
Now – My judgement is not negative – because My judgement is actually aimed at getting people – all sinful people – to turn to Me – to flee to Jesus for rescue – that is the message of the whole Old Testament – I kept judging My people because they had given their hearts elsewhere My aim was and still is – to this day to turn them back to me. Now the only way they and everyone else under My judgement can escape is by coming to Jesus – for forgiveness – complete forgiveness, so that they too can be declared righteous.
My reading today is in Acts 5:1-11. This should be read in conjunction with Acts 4:32-37, which I read yesterday. The section in ch 4 describes the outworking of the Holy Spirit on the new community of believers which were forming the foundation of the church, God’s new kingdom here on earth. One aspect which is highlighted there is the way that people cared for each other’s needs and how the working of the Spirit caused a wave of generosity to sweep over them, as the people were filled with a sense of unity and compassion.
So this ‘awe-ful’ story in Acts 5 sets the reader back in shock. Amongst all the love that was being shown was this really the same God who now caused these two people to be punished by death? Firstly note vs 3: “Satan has so filled your heart, that you lied to the Holy Spirit”. Shades of Luke 22:3 “Then Satan entered Judas”. Judas was also one of the “inner circle”. But why this severe punishment, so openly demonstrating God’s judgement, when apparently far ‘worse sins’ are committed daily to-day without any apparent consequences?
I take it that the answer lies way back in Genesis ch 3, when Adam sinned and God pronounced His judgement on him and all mankind after that. See Genesis 3:22 b “he (the man- Adam) must not be allowed to reach out his hand and also take from the tree of life and live forever” and vs 23,24 which makes this final “So the Lord God banished him from the the Garden of Eden……After He drove him out, He placed on the East side of the Garden of Eden Cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard he way to the tree of life”. Highly symbolic but he meaning is clear – death had entered the idyll, for the first time. Death was to be the ultimate punishment for sin. A visible, daily reminder of God’s absolute abhorrence for sin.
So now, here in Acts we have a “new beginning” a new Genesis (which means beginnings), as the church is being formed. And God is reminding the people then and ever after that, although the restoration of the kingdom has come, it will only be completed when Jesus comes again and in the interim, in the time described as “now but not yet”, there is still going to be sin and the judgement and punishment for sin is still exactly the same as in the beginning.
Notice too that this event happened in the church. Shades of 1 Peter 4:17; “For it is the time for judgement to begin with the family of God.” So just because we can’t see it being graphically carried out like it was then, it doesn’t mean that it is not happening in God’s own way all the time.
lastly note the effect of this judgement on the community and the the church: vs 5b “And great fear seized all who heard what had happened”. vs 11 “great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these events”. An Awe-filled church and a community who had a new respect for Almighty God. Maybe that is what the church and the world needs more of today, instead of trying to explain away events which suggest God’s judgement.
For me today, I feel this is a great spur to the wonder at what Jesus has done for me and all other believers, in setting me free from God’s ultimate judgement which is pictured by death, demonstrating the final separation, that which is the main effect of God’s ultimate judgment in the hereafter. And a new sense of awe at His person and His presence. The Greek word here is ‘phobos’ from which comes phobia, being a mixture of pure awe and fear
So friends how much awe do you feel when you contemplate the revelation of God in His Word and His works we see around us?