Righteousness and Peace--The Kiss
Jan 28, 2008
Psalm 85:10 says,
"Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
Emotions aside, a kiss is a symbolic act of love, intimacy, and unity. When lips meet, it represents a "face to face" meeting, even as God talked to Moses face to face as a friend (Ex. 33:11). It also represents an exchange of breath, or spirit, even as God breathed into Adam's nostrils the breath of life. That was not only an act of creation but an act of divine love.
So how does this apply to the kiss between righteousness and peace, or between mercy and truth--as expressed by the Ark of the Covenant? The mercy seat is positioned over the tablets of the law in the Ark, for as James 2:13 says, "mercy triumphs over judgment." But does this mean that mercy puts away the law? Does mercy annul judgment altogether?
No, that is not the meaning of a kiss. A kiss is not symbolic of one person repudiating the other. In fact, it is symbolic of unity. One does not kiss his beloved and then cast her away. The kiss was meant to be a step toward marriage. The tables of the law represent truth, and it is joined to the mercy seat in the Ark. Again, the tables of the law represent righteousness, while the mercy seat is the source of peace/reconciliation.
There are those who believe that Jesus removed all judgment when He took our penalty upon Himself at the Cross. They say God put away the law at that moment. But Jesus Himself spoke ofaionian judgment that was to come. And even after His death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, Paul speaks often of judgment that was to come. This even includes judgment upon believers, who will be "saved yet so as through fire" (1 Cor. 3:15).
Many of us have shown that eonian judgment is not "eternal" in the sense of being never-ending, on the grounds that the word eonian means "age-abiding" (Rotherham) or "age-during" (Young). But some who teach this then do an about-face and teach the contradictory doctrine that there is no judgment at all. In my view, one either believes in eonian judgment, or no judgment, but one cannot believe both.
For the record, I teach eonian judgment. It is limited to the ages of time and does not belong in a timeless realm of "eternity." Nevertheless, there is a judgment, in which the evil works of man are "burned" in Moses' "fiery law," forming first Daniel's "river of fire" and then John's "lake of fire." But divine justice has its eonian limits, even as the 49-year Jubilee and the 40 lashes in the divine law limited our liability for sin.
It is in this very limitation that mercy triumphs over justice, for if liability for sin were to continue beyond the Jubilee or past the 40 lashes, it would be counter-productive to the purpose of justice. God's purpose for administering discipline and justice is to bring correction and restore the lawful order. It is not to punish endlessly.
Justice ends, but mercy, which is rooted in love, never ends. If two athletes compete, they both may run together for a time, but if only one of them has never-ending stamina, you know which one will win in the end. Mercy cannot lose.
God is our Father, and we are His children. God is therefore the One responsible to bring us to maturity as responsible adults with His law written on our hearts. Hebrews 12:5-7 says,
" (5) . . . My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; (6) For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. (7) It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
God does not discipline (judge) His children without cause. Parents sometimes do this when they themselves are spiritually immature, and such discipline instills bitterness and rebellion in their hearts. Other parents do not discipline their children at all, and this makes them lawless in later life, thinking that life is about them, and they have little regard for the rights of others. Other parents over-discipline their children, often with sad results. But God is not like man in this way.
Those who think that all judgment has been set aside do not understand the Fatherhood of God, for if they did, it would be apparent that God is not Doctor Spock, who started the modern idea that children should only be motivated and not disciplined. In other words, if they do something wrong, give something better for them to do in its place and get them interested in that alternate activity. The problem with this is that the child learns that his actions are never wrong, but that there are only more interesting ways to pursue life. It is a lawless approach and a counterfeit Fatherhood.
There are others, of course, who overdiscipline their children, restricting them too much and imposing too much punishment for even the least infraction of the father's will. This is characteristic of fathers who were treated in a similar manner when they were children. Such fathers impose their own will upon the child, rather than God's will, and are indignant when the child asks for an explanation. "Children, obey your parents," they say, without reading the rest of the passage, "fathers, provoke not your children to wrath." (See Eph. 6:1-4.)
Children are provoked to wrath by injustice and when they see whimsical punishment based upon infringing upon a father's comfort or his over-restrictive commands.
So how does God discipline His children? Obviously, He is a God of Love. The question is this: Would a God of Love discipline His children? Hebrews 12 certainly says so. And I can testify by my own experience that God never lets me get away with anything, but holds me to a very high standard of conduct and attitude. I could never get away with the shenanigans of the popular evangelists on television. But that, I believe, is because I am called to Sonship, while apparently many of them are not (yet).
Hence, I can "boast" of the times I have spent in "Cursed Time" (414-day cycles). Those were not cursed times, but grace periods, where God in His love and mercy disciplined me and brought me low, so that I would never do those things again. I was not the one who coined the term "Cursed Time," and from personal experience I see it as misnamed, for it gives an impression that is too negative. It is actually a time of discipline and correction, like a good father disciplines his child in order to bring them into maturity.
God loved Israel, yet He chastised them. Perhaps the best illustration of how mercy and justice kiss is found in Solomon's prayer when He was dedicating the Temple. 2 Chron. 6:36-39 says, in part,
" (36) When they sin against Thee (for there is no man who does not sin) and Thou art angry with them and dost deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to a land far off or near, (37) if they take thought in the land where they are taken captive, and REPENT in the land of their captivity, saying, 'We have sinned, we have committed iniquity, and have acted wickedly' . . . (39) then hear from heaven . . . and FORGIVE Thy people who have sinned against Thee."
In other words, judgment continues as long as it takes to bring a person to repentance, for that is the purpose of judgment. Once the correction has been made, and their stiff-necked wills have been broken in going their own way, then judgment ends and truth kisses mercy in unity.
This is the first part of a series titled "The Kiss." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones