God Makes Himself Known in His Judgments

This post is part of the Series "A Biblical Perspective of God's Judgment and Discipline"

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God reveals Himself in His judgments. Consider the words of Ezekiel:[1]

“My eye will show no pity nor will I spare. I will repay you according to your ways, while your abominations are in your midst; then you will know that I, the Lord, do the smiting.” (Ezekiel 7:9 NASB)

“Your lewdness will be requited upon you, and you will bear the penalty of worshiping your idols; thus you will know that I am the Lord God.” (23:49 NASB)

“Thus I will execute judgments on Egypt, And they will know that I am the Lord.” (30:19 NASB)

“Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I make the land a desolation and a waste because of all their abominations which they have committed.” (33:29 NASB)

God does not judge for capricious or vindictive reasons. He judges for the sake of His name—to make Himself known:

“‘Then you will know that I am the Lord when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your evil ways or according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel,’ declares the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 20:44 NASB)

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.”’” (36:22–23 NASB)

God’s primary concern in judgment is the greatness of His holy name.Biblically, God’s judgments reveal His nature, His character, His beauty, and His glory.

Sin is more than the violation of arbitrary rules. Ultimately, it is the violation of a Person. This is why God compared Israel’s sin to adultery.[2]Adultery in a marriage is not simply breaking a rule; it is the violation of another person. Sin is personal not mechanical.Sin against God is the violation of a Person who created us for intimate relationship. It destroys relationship with God just as adultery destroys a marriage. The incredible message of the Bible is that God—though violated by Israel and the nations—aggressively seeks to restore relationship with them.

When we sin, we make a statement about who God is.Sin is a statement we know better than God how to seek our own good and our own joy. When we reject His ways, we are challenging His character because His ways flow from who He is. Sin is a statement God is not perfectly good, and not truly acting in the best interest of creation. Our sin corrupts God’s good creation and that violation of creation is a violation of God who formed creation for His joy and His purposes.

Because sin is an accusation against God, God must respond to the accusation against His goodness.He must demonstrate that He is good first and that His goodness is expressed in the way He relates to His creation. His judgments are an expression of how He feels about our corruption and violation of creation.

A judge reveals his goodness in the way he responds to crimes committed, and God is no different. The sentences a judge gives to criminals reveal what the judge values and how much he cares for the people who have been violated. The glory of a judge is that he demonstrates what is beautiful and true by his judgments of what is wicked. It is the same with God. His judgments reveal His value for His holiness and His care for His creation which is violated by our sin. Therefore, He does not apologize for His judgments.

When we sin, not only are we making a statement that we know good better than God, we are also making a statement that what God defines as evil is not truly evil. Our presumption that God will not respond to our sin is a statement that God’s laws are not worth enforcing and, therefore, not true and valuable expressions of His goodness.

You can always tell what is important to a parent by what they enforce. Children quickly learn the real rules of a house by observing what the parents enforce and what they do not enforce. Rules that are not enforced are essentially not real. When we sin as though God will never respond, we are saying we do not believe God’s law is valuable enough for Him to respond. It is a challenge to the goodness and value of His character.

However, God is not some sort of cosmic absent father. He is intricately involved in HIs creation. He responds to wickedness. He takes the time and effort to defend His precepts as right and true. He takes the time necessary to demonstrate the value of His just requirements.

If God did not judge violations of His law, effectively, it would be an agreement with rebellious humans that sin is “not that bad” because it is not worth His effort to enforce. However, because His laws are an expression of His nature, and our sin is an accusation against that nature, He must respond to our violations of His law to demonstrate the value of who He is as it is expressed in His good laws.

We tend to be uncomfortable with His judgments because we are so comfortable with sin. Sin is familiar to us. It is reasonable to us. It may seem bad, but it doesn’t seem that bad.In reality, it is overt rebellion that maligns God’s good nature. It is a public challenge to His goodness, and when God responds in His judgment, He instructs the nations in His righteousness:

For when the earth experiences Your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:9 NASB)

In His judgments, God displays the glory of His name and warns the nations of a much greater eternal judgment coming for those who persist in their sin. Therefore, His judgments are a kind gift to the nations.

[1]           God repeatedly tells Ezekiel that Israel and the nations will know “I am the Lord,” and the vast majority of those statements are in the context of His judgments. See Ezekiel 5:13, 15; 6:7, 10, 13–14; 7:4, 9, 27; 11:10, 12; 12:15–16, 20; 13:9, 14, 21, 23; 14:8; 15:7; 16:62; 17:21, 24; 20:7, 12, 20, 26, 38, 42, 44; 21:5; 22:16, 22; 23:49; 24:14, 24, 27; 25:5, 7, 11, 17; 26:6, 14; 28:22–24, 26; 29:6, 16, 21; 30:8, 12, 19, 25–26; 32:15; 33:29; 34:27, 30; 35:4, 9, 15; 36:11, 22–23, 36, 38; 37:6, 13, 28; 38:23; 39:6–7, 21–23, 28.

[2]           See Deuteronomy 31:16; Ezekiel 16; 23:11; Hosea 1:2; Jeremiah 3:8-10;

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