Judgment Time

Judges 8:13-21

13 Gideon son of Joash then returned from the battle by the Pass of Heres. 14 He caught a young man of Sukkoth and questioned him, and the young man wrote down for him the names of the seventy-seven officials of Sukkoth, the elders of the town. 15 Then Gideon came and said to the men of Sukkoth, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me by saying, ‘Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your exhausted men?’” 16 He took the elders of the town and taught the men of Sukkoth a lesson by punishing them with desert thorns and briers. 17 He also pulled down the tower of Peniel and killed the men of the town.

18 Then he asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men did you kill at Tabor?”

“Men like you,” they answered, “each one with the bearing of a prince.” 19 Gideon replied, “Those were my brothers, the sons of my own mother. As surely as the Lord lives, if you had spared their lives, I would not kill you.” 20 Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, “Kill them!” But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid. 21 Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Come, do it yourself. ‘As is the man, so is his strength.’” So Gideon stepped forward and killed them, and took the ornaments off their camels’ necks.

Katarungan

In his song, ‘Katarungan,’ Filipino singer Freddie Aguilar appeal for sympathy to someone who was wrongfully accused and sentenced to suffer for a crime he did not commit. He asked, “How many are suffering from similar situation he had?”

Why would God allow injustices in the world? Why would He let criminals escape punishment for their crimes? Why is God silent when He is much needed? Where’s He?

These are familiar questions we often hear from people who are seeking justice. Not knowing all answers exhibits God’s transcendence. He is beyond our imagination.

It says in 2 Peter 3:3-6, 5By God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

God is patient. He gives everyone a chance to repent. He offers salvation to everyone who believes. Believe it or not, the Day of Judgment has been decreed. In eternity, each sin, wickedness, or crime committed, God will certainly punish.  

1.  Punish

13 Gideon son of Joash then returned from the battle by the Pass of Heres. 14 He caught a young man of Sukkoth and questioned him, and the young man wrote down for him the names of the seventy-seven officials of Sukkoth, the elders of the town. 15 Then Gideon came and said to the men of Sukkoth, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me by saying, ‘Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your exhausted men?’” 16 He took the elders of the town and taught the men of Sukkoth a lesson by punishing them with desert thorns and briers. 17 He also pulled down the tower of Peniel and killed the men of the town.

Gideon and his men were very tired while they were pursuing the Midianite kings. When they came to Sukkoth and asked for food from them, he was despised. He told the men of Sukkoth that he will punish them right after the Lord has given him the kings of Midian. Gideon implied that victory over their enemy depends upon the Lord.

Before they went to battle against the Midianite, the Spirit of the Lord came to Gideon. The same Lord gave them victory over the Midianites. And, Gideon punished the men of Sukkoth just as he told them. Someone may ask, “Did the Spirit of the Lord inspire Gideon to give such punishment to the men of Sukkoth who despised them?”

The Spirit of God in the Old and New Testament is one and the same, right? 

Why was the Lord in the Old Testament enforced punishment right away while the Spirit of the Lord in the New Testament was gracious and patient? 

We believe that God is just and merciful. In the Old Testament, God’s law was emphasized. In the New Testament, God’s grace was emphasized. God’s law defines the punishment for disobedience. God’s grace defines how the disobedient be forgiven.

The Bible, the old and New Testament has revealed both the righteousness and graciousness of God. God is merciful and forgiving but He also punishes wickedness.

The Lord asked in Amos 7:8-9, 8“What do you see, Amos?” “A plumb line,” I replied. Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.”

A plumb line is a cord weighted with lead of steel that is used to check that vertical structures are upright and true. It symbolizes divine standard God uses to test and judge His people and by which the same divine standard He will rebuild them. God revealed to Amos His plan to punish Israel.

Paul warns Gentile believers in Romans 11:21-22, 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.

God always warns before He punishes. The men of Sukkoth despised Gideon. And, he warned them that he will punish them upon his return. They were not scared.   They were just too proud and did not believe that Gideon will return to punish them.

In 1 Peter 3:12-14, 12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”

Nothing to lose from doing what’s right but there’s payback time for crimes. The Midianite kings paid back for their crime against the Israelites.

2.  Payback  

18 Then he asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men did you kill at Tabor?” “Men like you,” they answered, “each one with the bearing of a prince.” 19Gideon replied, “Those were my brothers, the sons of my own mother. As surely as the Lord lives, if you had spared their lives, I would not kill you.” 20 Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, “Kill them!” But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid. 21 Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Come, do it yourself. ‘As is the man, so is his strength.’” So Gideon stepped forward and killed them, and took the ornaments off their camels’ necks.

In everything we do, there’s always subsequent consequence. The Midianites made the life of the Israelites so horrible. They even invited other eastern people to destroy anything valuable to the Israelites. Before Gideon defeated their enemies, the Israelites lived in fear and extreme poverty. They hid in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds just to escape the oppression of the Midianites and their allies.

Gideon did not have any hesitation in paying back and return the affliction and maltreatment they suffered from the Midianites. Why did the kings of Midian not ask to be forgiven? They knew exactly the injustice and damage they inflicted to the Israelites. They paid back for their cruel oppression against the Israelites.

Cop Killer

A man killed two police officers in 1971, and imprisoned for the murders he committed. After nearly 45 years behind bars, a parole board has decided to release him from prison. An Association of Patrolmen did not take it easily. After the prisoner was released, they expressed their anger before news reporters.

To forgive for a crime committed is not easy. God ordered us to forgive. We can forgive others as a result of the forgiveness of our sin we received from God. The forgiveness of God is His grace we receive from Him. The amount of forgiveness we received from God is measured by the amount of forgiveness we give to our offenders.

To forgive is different from trust. God forgives us but does God trust us not to sin again? Did God command us to trust the offenders we forgave? 

Christ’s Spirit will inspire us if offenders are worthy to be trusted. There are also accidental and habitual offenses to consider. If an offense is accidental, trust can be easily restored. But for habitual offenders, trust is to be reconsidered wisely.

You may have been offended in the past. Have you forgiven and easily trusted those who offended you? Habitual offenders don’t easily change their ways.

You may forgive habitual offenders but be wise and prayerful when to trust them. It may not be needed to payback offense with offense. It is really tough to be offended but it should not confuse our focus on earning eternal treasures. There’s no eternal treasure earned in retaliation. Forgiveness earns us eternal treasures.

It says in 2 Peter 3:10-12, 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.

By God’s grace and by the empowerment of Christ’s Spirit, we can forgive offenders, and it will serve as exhibit when we testify that we can forgive offenders. 

Let’s ask God to pour out much of His forgiveness into our hearts for us to have forgiveness to give to offenders.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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