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Judgments or Consequences

Mar 28, 2011

In biblical law some sins carry court-ordered judgments, while others do not.

For example, if a man steals, he must repay at least double the amount in restitution (Ex. 22:4). If he cannot return the property intact, he must pay four or five times its value (Ex. 22:1). Because the law specifies a court-ordered penalty, we can properly call it a "judgment" of the law.

However, the same law also says in Deut. 6:5, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and and with all your might," but there is no specific court-ordered penalty for those who fail to do this.

Likewise, verses 6-7 command us to teach these laws to our children, but it is self-evident that the court of law was not empowered to enforce this within the home.

The law defines sin, as John tells us (1 John 3:4), but not all sins invoke court-ordered penalties. Some sins simply have "natural" consequences built into them. A natural consequence is something that God builds into nature itself. It is a divine judgment, but that judgment proceeds from a higher court, rather than from an earthly court in the Kingdom of God.

In Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount," Matthew 5:21, 22 says,

(21) You have heard that the ancients were told, "You shall not commit murder," and "Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court." (22) But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, "Raca," [You empty-head!] shall be guilty before the Supreme Court; and whoever shall say, "You fool," shall be guilty enough to go into gehenna of fire.

To commit murder makes one liable to "the court" on earth in His Kingdom. However, the earthly courts were not empowered to deal with insults, which could be considered "word crimes" or "thought crimes." Insulting others is still a sin, Jesus tells us, but such "hate crimes" were only judged by "the Supreme Court" in heaven.

The same can be said of adultery. Jesus distinguished between the ACT of adultery and the THOUGHT of adultery. The act of adultery was something that the earthly court could judge. The thought of adultery was still a sin, but not enforceable in the earthly court.

The Supreme Court of God will judge all things at the Great White Throne in the end. More than that, we can see that "natural" consequences do happen as an outworking of the thought crimes. If you insult someone, he may insult you in return, or he may even hit you in the mouth. In some cases, he may shoot you.

Adulterous thoughts may lead to adulterous actions as a "natural" consequence.

As for the greatest commandment, who on earth has ever loved God with all his heart, soul, and strength every day of his life time? Everyone is guilty of breaking the greatest commandment. Are there consequences for this sin? Yes. Can an earthly court of law judge a man for this sin? No. Even the best of the judges are guilty of violating this law. If they were to judge others, they would be held equally liable in the Supreme Court (Matt. 7:1, 2).

The tenth commandment is: "You shall not covet." We can search in vain for any judgment of the law that must be imposed upon one who covets his neighbor's property. But if covetousness leads to theft, then the earthly court is empowered to deal with the sin. Paul tells us also that covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3:5). Idolatry is punishable by death (Deut. 17:2-5), but if men were sentenced to death for covetousness, there would be no one left to propagate the species. Thus, covetousness is a thought crime that must be handled by the Supreme Court, rather than by an earthly court. Covetousness is "spiritual idolatry," but there are no penalties imposed unless it turns into overt idolatry.

The Kingdom of God, as a national unit, was formed by Moses, complete with a court system to enforce God's laws. Israel was the Kingdom of God in its earliest stage of development. However, during the time of the book of Judges, the people began to disregard God's laws and did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).

When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam replaced him as king of the Kingdom. But because of Solomon's sins, God took the Kingdom out of his jurisdiction and placed it in the hands of Jeroboam, an Ephraimite. In 1 Kings 11:31 the prophet Ahijah said to Jeroboam, "Behold, I will tear the Kingdomout of the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes." He repeats this in verse 35.

It was not merely Israel, but "the Kingdom" that was taken away from the line of Judah and given to Joseph (Ephraim).

And so, "the Kingdom" was defined as the northern ten tribes of Israel. Although Judah still had a kingdom of its own, it was not "the Kingdom of God." The people of the southern tribes of Judah had to retain "the Kingdom" in their hearts only, because no longer was their nation the express manifestation of the Kingdom of God.

In Jesus' day, He said to this nation of Judah, "the Kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). The nation was still under divine judgment, and God refused to recognize Judah as the Kingdom of God.

Furthermore, even Israel was no longer the Kingdom of God. When Israel was destroyed and the people deported to Assyria (745-721 B.C.), the Kingdom of God--as a national and political entity--ceased to exist, except in the hearts of true believers.

The point is that today we still live under the consequences of past sin, but we believe that the Kingdom of God will soon be re-established in the earth as in the days of Moses. The difference will be that it will be established under the New Covenant. It will have Melchizedek priests to judge the people, rather than Levitical or Aaronic priests that used to have jurisdiction under the Old Covenant.

This Kingdom is the "Stone" cut out of the mountains without hands (Dan. 2:31). Verse 44 interprets this: "And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a KINGDOM which will never be destroyed." Daniel recognized that the Kingdom of God had been destroyed (by Assyria), and that God planned to establish the Kingdom once again, after the Babylonian succession of empires had run their course.

Of this Kingdom we read that it "became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (Dan. 2:31). This Kingdom originates in heaven, but it fills the whole earth. On earth it will have judges who will judge according to God's Law. Paul says in 1 Cor. 6:2, "do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" Paul was chiding the Corinthian "saints" for not being capable of judging the simplest disputes within the church.

We today are learning the law of God and developing the ability to hear His voice in order to be capable of judging the world in righteousness and in love by the mind of Christ. Part of what we need to know is the difference between the earthly court and the Supreme Court of heaven. Earthly judges need to know the boundaries of their jurisdiction. They cannot judge thought crimes that are reserved for the Supreme Court alone.

It takes a more prophetic and apostolic calling to speak for the Supreme Court. The OT prophets often gave such information, though they were not called as judges in an earthly court. They were spokesmen of God who heard His voice and understood His decrees. They were in a position to inform people on earth what decrees God had made in the Supreme Court.

Those few who believed their words were blessed accordingly. Those who refused to repent suffered the consequences.

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Category: God's Law

Dr. Stephen Jones

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