God's merciful judgments
Jul 14, 2018
I have written often about the mercy of God that is evident in His judgments. In fact, mercy itself implies some form of deserved judgment that is being handled, well, mercifully.
It is really summed up in Romans 8:28, where Paul says that “God causes all things to work together for good.” Such a statement has little impact on us when we apply it to all the good things in life. Good is always good. But when we see that this was referring to all the things that we consider bad, then it has real meaning.
In the past we have studied how the judgments of God are limited and never “eternal.” For misdemeanors, judgment is limited to 40 lashes (Deuteronomy 25:2, 3). The reason for this limitation—even though the man is presumably guilty—is so that he is not “degraded in your eyes.” Now why would God care about how some might have disrespect for criminals? The love of God shows through this law quite clearly as His motive for mercy.
Likewise, the law of Jubilee ends all slavery due to debt and sin. Every 50th year everyone was supposed to return to his lost inheritance (Leviticus 25:13) and hit the “reset” button. The same principle of mercy again holds true. It is only due to man’s lack of mercy that the law of Jubilee was never enforced. The judgments of men are far less merciful than the judgments of God. Man even invented eternal punishment and managed to mistranslate Scripture to prove it!
Forty lashes is a severe punishment, but it is limited. Fifty years of slavery is a severe punishment, but it too is limited. Likewise, “seven times” can be a long judgment for a nation or for the world, but it is limited. Sometimes it is just seven days or seven years, but as we have shown many times, it is also a period of 7 x 360 years (2,520).
Such is the length of time that God judged Jerusalem and the world at large after the kings of Judah continued to put away God’s law and to rebel against His right to rule. For 2,520 years God subjected the city and the world to the rule of “beasts” (Babylon, the lion; Persia, the bear; Greece, the leopard; and Rome, the beast with iron teeth and feet).
At first glance that does not seem so merciful, but it is better than eternal punishment. This was not a judgment upon individuals per se, but upon nations. Not only Judah and Jerusalem but also all other nations were subjected to the rule of beasts (Jeremiah 27:7, 8). This judgment postponed the Kingdom of God itself, which alone could set the nations at liberty under righteous rule.
God saw that in the overall context of Adam’s sentence to labor for six days, as the law commands in Exodus 21:2, God saw that Adam’s household of flesh was not being rehabilitated by his labor. The nations were degenerating morally and spiritually. Even those called to oversee the nations—those kings of Judah who had been given the Dominion Mandate in Genesis 49:10—had revolted against their Master.
In other words, the kings of Judah proved that they were incapable of ruling responsibly as stewards of the throne of God. So God took the Dominion Mandate away from Judah and give it to Babylon. After 70 years the Mandate was passed down to Persia, then Greece, Rome, and Rome’s extensions (“horns”). That continued to the present day.
Essentially, God said, “Enough of this! If Judah wants to be ruled by lawless and ungodly men, then I will give them their heart’s desire. I will show them the fruit of lawlessness. I will scourge them by the hand of wicked men until they repent and realize that My good and merciful laws are much better than the laws of men.”
So He took away godly government and postponed the righteous Kingdom of God until the six days of Adam’s labor were completed. As it turned out, the six days of labor coincided with the end of the seven times (2,520 years) allotted to the beasts to rule the earth.
During this long time of judgment, the ungodly kings were likened prophetically to “beasts,” because lions, bears, and leopards primarily think of their own welfare. Survival is their strongest motive. They hunt prey. This is how the carnal kings of the earth function, and their systems of government reflect the view that any course of action is “right” when they face an existential threat. They may go to war, murder whoever they please, torture anyone mercilessly, and remove any and all freedoms from the people in order to survive as governments.
Contrast that with Jesus, our King, who was willing to die for the world. Jesus’ love qualifies Him as King of the earth, and when men finally understand this, what nation would not serve Him? (Revelation 15:4). We all wish we had rulers who love us, for they are the only ones who can be trusted with the reins of government.
The Mercy Factor in Blindness
Would it not be merciful, in any long period of judgment, to put people to sleep? That is what God has done with the world. He poured out “a spirit of deep sleep” upon the people (Isaiah 29:10).
God had also blinded the people, according to the judgment of the law in Deuteronomy 28:28, saying, “The Lord will smite you with blindness.” So also Isaiah 43:8 says, “Bring out the people who are blind, even though they have eyes.” Again, he says in Isaiah 42:19, “Who is so blind but My servant?”
Blinding the people sounds “bad” until we realize God’s purpose for this, according to the laws of blindness. First, blindness reduces liability for one’s actions, as Jesus said in John 9:41, saying, “If you were blind, you would have no sin.” Blindness means the people have only a dim idea of what they are doing, so their liability for sin is reduced in the eyes of the law.
God saw that Israel and Judah were increasing in lawlessness to such an extent that the judgment of the law would soon be quite severe. So He blinded them for the rest of history until the time of the Kingdom drew near. Their blindness could thus end about the time that the Spirit of God was to be poured out. Thus, their limited liability in the age of blindness would serve as a mercy factor until they were able to repent just as the great Tabernacles Age was being established.
Meanwhile, God was raising up overcomers during this age of blindness. These would have their blindness removed (incrementally) by the direct revelation of God, so that they might live their lives without blindness while being given various levels and forms of spiritual authority. The Apostle Paul recognized this factor, when he spoke of the remnant of grace, calling them “elect,” or “chosen” (Greek: ekloge). Romans 11:7 says of these overcomers, “those who were chosen obtained it [the promise, or grace], and the rest were hardened” [or blinded]. He says plainly that only the elect can see. The general public has been blinded.
The fact that this blindness extended far beyond the people of Israel and Judah is seen in Romans 11:32, where Paul said,
32 For God has shut up [locked up] all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.
Speaking of blindness (lack of revelation), Paul was speaking of the concept of grace, which is bound up in the New Covenant promises of God. Not many really understand the promises of God—and for this reason they do not believe that God could indeed save everyone. Neither do they understand the law of Jubilee, which demands the Restoration of All Things by limiting judgment to a certain time period.
The Blind Servant Theme
Isaiah 42:19 speaks of God’s blind servant. The law of tribulation in Deuteronomy 28:28 prophesied that God would “smite” them with blindness as a judgment for their lawlessness. Psalm 69:23, quoted in Romans 11:10, says, “Let their eyes be darkened to see not.” And it was so. Therefore, it is clear that God Himself blinded their eyes as part of His judgment upon them.
Nonetheless, there is a law which deals with such situations. It is found in Exodus 21:26,
26 If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye.
By this law, Samson appealed to God for mercy in Judges 16:28,
28 Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
God did indeed strengthen Samson and set him free (through death) on account of his eyes, for the Philistines had put out his eyes.
The fact that God has taken credit for blinding the eyes of His servants shows that He intended from the start to set them free for the sake of their eyes. He wrote this law to reveal His ways and His nature, so that we would know how His judgments would surely end in mercy.
As aspiring overcomers, we ought to learn these laws, so that we know the nature of God and can conform our own lives accordingly. If we know how God intends to judge the world and rule it in righteousness, then we will be qualified to administer the law as His faithful stewards. We will know how to judge righteously by the mind of a gracious and merciful God. We will know the right balance of justice and mercy and not be caught assigning people to eternal punishment, which was never commanded by God’s law.
So today we anticipate the soon-coming Kingdom, as the Dominion Mandate has now been transferred to the saints of the Most High, as prophesied in Daniel 7:22, 25, and 27. The long judgment is ending even now, the authority of the beasts is collapsing, and the overcomers are preparing for greater responsibility in the Age to come. I believe that the next outpouring of the Holy Spirit will come through the overcomers, and that their message of grace (the promises of God) will be the great revelation that will change the heart of the nations.
Dr. Stephen Jones