Isaiah 11:3 | Justified before the King

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There is an interesting, and scary, shift in government power when it comes to application of the law. For the most part in America what you think or say is not a crime. Crime is based on actions. For example, I could say out loud that I want to rob a bank but unless I actually attempt to rob a bank the police cannot arrest me. I could be a gross, nasty, evil person but unless my evil is converted into some outward action then government would leave me alone.

While that has been historically true there is political pressure for government, and even social media companies to police what people think and say. Kevin Hart was removed from hosting the Oscars because of tasteless jokes that were quasi acceptable 10 years ago that have now been deemed offensive today. Political parties want to make even having certain thoughts a crime. A first attempt at policing thoughts takes on the form of “hate crime” laws. If someone vandalizes a building there are laws against damaging property. However, if someone vandalizes a building and it can be proven that the intent was born out of discrimination then hate crime laws would allow for conviction of even more time added to the sentence because of thoughts and evil intent.

Beyond the problem of tying to prove what people are thinking a problem with Governments having policing power over thoughts is that acceptable think today might be wrong think tomorrow. Laws on action are almost never retroactive when changed but wrong thinking is almost always retroactive requiring those who held the now outlawed thoughts to apologize and even then, that apology may not be enough. Anyone who gains a public spotlight will have their past media history searched for any spoken offense.

The second coming of Jesus is predicted in the Old Testament as a powerful king that will rule over the people. As any king or government Jesus will have the power judge and make laws. Will Jesus judge based on actionable crimes or will he also judge our thoughts like many want government to do now?

And his [Jesus] delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear Isaiah 11:3 ESV

God’s judgment will not be based on actions. His judgment will be based on what is inside the heart of people. Yet unlike earthly governments who judge on the whims of social right and wrong Jesus will judge on an unchanging law that is written into the hearts of his creation. He knows all things so when he looks into your heart what will he find to be true?

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV

The wicked seem to always gain power and influence in governments. President Trump is under endless investigation. The rival candidate Secretary Clinton was under investigation and even today the opposing crowds of voters chant “lock her up” at rallies. Yet people want government to function in the role of God administrating justice as seen fit by those in power. When the judge is corrupt then how can there be justice? God through Jesus however will judge will full knowledge even of intent in the heart of man. God unlike man is not corrupt and his justice will be perfect.

None of us can stand to such perfect justice because it knows our hearts. That is why Jesus took on our crimes and took on the punishment of that righteous judgment. The Bible word for what Jesus did for his children is “justification”. God is who is just is also loving and has provided justification to those who desire to be made right before God. I deserve punishment for my crimes before the king but Jesus who is perfect took my punishment making me justified before the king.

22 That is why his [Abraham] faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Romans 4:22-25 ESV

Genesis 8:21 | God’s Plan is Working

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Genesis 8 is a transitional chapter that concludes the flood event. The pre flood world has been judged and destroyed. As the flood waters fall away and Noah takes his first steps off the Ark into a new land. He is about to be introduced to a new post flood world has yet be explored. In reverence and obedience to God who saved Noah and his family Noah offers a sacrifice, a burnt offering, of clean animals to God. Just as Abel’s offering (Genesis 4:4) was pleasing to God so too Noah’s faith to God the savior is received and God makes an interesting but paradoxical promise to all of men.

21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:21-22 ESV

This verse sets the stage of transitioning between the old destroyed world, the harsh realities of the existing world, and the promise of the new Heavens and Earth. God promises to not add additional curses the Earth because of men. Twice in the history of mankind God has cursed the earth. First with Adam in the garden and then again because of Satan and Men colluding to prevent God’s promised salvation.

17 And to Adam he said…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life Genesis 3:17b ESV

13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Genesis 6:13 ESV

God is now giving Noah a promise that applies to contemporary peoples all over the earth today. A promise that no more will God curse the earth because of our evil and because of our sin. Oddly enough His reason for making the promise is because we are evil. He says that “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth”. The word intention יֵצֶר (yetser) means the very framework of man is evil. It is our nature and who we are from even our youth. This may be shocking news to those who think they are good people, think people are mostly good, and all working hard to please their god. The Psalmist used the same word “intention” יֵצֶר (yetser) to describe how down to every fiber of our being God knows who we are. There is nothing hidden from him. He is our creator and while we can put up a front before other people or we can compare ourselves with others to project a good person God knows who we really are.

14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14 ESV

The good news for you, me, and every person is that God understand our intention and that we cannot overcome it without His intervention. Because our nature is so corrupted because of Adam’s sin God is prepared to take upon himself the necessary steps to restore His creation. The same Psalmist that acknowledged God knows our every evil intention also wrote why God would even care to restore us.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:10-13 ESV

As His creation we are his children and his compassion on those who humble themselves and acknowledge who He is so powerful that He, the Creator, will not repay what we owe because of our sins. He will remove our sins and the debt from us. It is not for people to figure out or work toward. He has already done it. Salvation, Restoration, and Justification are complete in a single act not a lifetime of work.

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:6-11 ESV

God’s plan to save and reconcile His creation to Himself is through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God working to undo the evil of who we have become. Jesus is God’s answer to what we cannot do for ourselves. There is no work or being good that can accomplish what God has already done.

This promise of God in Genesis 8 completes the curses and destruction of the old world, the promise provides a salvation in the current Earth, and the promise also points to the completion of all things in a future new Earth where people will no longer be evil at their very being. Those who have submitted and allowed Jesus to be their substitutionary payment for sin will be part of the conclusion and new Earth that God has promised.

13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13 ESV