Taking Warnings for a Joke

When God was about to rain judgment down on Sodom and Gomorrah, his angels told Lot to get out of the city. In kindness, the angels also told Lot to tell any of his loved ones, his daughters’ fiancés as an example, to leave the city too. The people of the cities had been wicked, and the wrath of God was on the way.

But when Lot warned people who mattered to him, they did not take him seriously.

Genesis 19:14 – So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.

Why did the young men not take Lot’s warnings to heart? We do not know what about their own lives was right or wrong. But we know that, when they heard the warning of the coming judgment of God, they assumed it to be a joke. They thought Lot was playing some sort of prank. They did not leave the city, though the warning was given. And they perished with the two evil cities.

In truth, it is hard for human beings to hear warnings, especially warnings of supernatural judgment, as real. Part of the sinful nature is to deny the existence of God. Though the Lord has made himself plain to all human beings, though all people have enough evidence of God’s presence as to be without excuse before him, we often fight against that with our hearts. People want to live in a world that is not influenced by God so long as things are going the way that they want. People who do not know God do not want to imagine the concept of God actually judging, at least not of him judging any but the worst of the worst. And even those who do know God can sometimes function as though we do not expect God to play a role in the world we live in. While we pray, read our Bibles, and attend church, many do not live on Monday through Saturday as if God is active.

We need to take a warning from the mistake of the young men in Genesis 19. They heard a warning of judgment from God. They assumed that there is just no way that could be serious. But it was. We live in a world that is far greater than the one we can see with our eyes. The God who made us is real, active, and glorious. God has promised us the return of Christ and real judgment. WE must not pretend such is far-fetched. We must not ignore God’s warnings. WE must become a people who understand that the God we cannot see with our eyes is more important than all the world that we can see. And one day, that God will make his presence visibly known as he judges this world and changes the universe forever.

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A Warning from Judges

When my annual Bible reading plan takes me through Judges, I cannot say I am excited. This book is dark and painful to read. WE watch as the nation of Israel turns their back on God time and time again. No matter how great are his warnings, the people keep fighting against him.

What hit me, as I began this reading for this year, is the fact that this dark feeling, this pressing warning, is just as much for us today as it was for the people who originally read it. No, I do not expect that we should think a lot about the land promises discussed in the book. But we are to live as the people of God and be careful not to turn from him.

Judges 2:10-13 – 10 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. 13 They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.

It was only 1 generation after Joshua when the people abandoned God and began to worship idols. IT took only one generation for those who should have followed the Lord to turn their backs. One generation, and the people provoked the Lord.

Before we take this and try to make some sort of political statement about our nation, how about we take this and see in it the need for intense warnings in our own families. Our children will worship someone or something. That is simply true. And it is wise for us as parents to help them to see that the only acceptable way to worship is to worship the Lord. The only way to worship the Lord is to come to him in faith and repentance, believing in Jesus and turning our backs on our sin in this life. We must trust Jesus and yield ourselves to him.

And we should warn our families that, to turn away from Jesus and ignore him is really the very same thing we see in Judges. To turn against Jesus is to bow to one idol or another. This is to provoke the Lord and to dishonor his name.

I don’t know if I’m getting across the depth of emotion that needs to come here. We either worship the Lord, or we bow to Baal, figuratively speaking. We either surrender to Jesus, or we do war against the Lord our God. This is an extremely significant truth, and I wonder if, in our desire to be kind and gentle and to appear open-minded, we might be softening the blow of this hard truth. May we not do so. May we find the grace of Jesus, a sweet Savior and gentle Master. May we not instead turn against him and find him the holy Judge.

The Unfair Dishonesty of Unbelief

In Matthew 11, Jesus was confronted by the unbelief of many. John the Baptist had questions, doubts, and fears. And while Jesus could send comforting words to John, not all around him were willing to hear him or believe his words or his miracles.

 

Matthew 11:16-19 – 16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;

we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

 

Jesus compares the people around him to children. They try to play a happy game, but people complain that the game is too happy. They try to play a sad game, but people complain that the game is not happy enough. And in that illustration, Jesus shows the dishonesty of unbelief.

 

You see, many who do not want to follow God will tell us that they do not want to submit to someone who would ever judge evil. That is, of course, until something they do not like happens. Then they say that they do not wish to follow God because he did not judge or prevent the evil thing that bothers them. Which is it? Do you want God to actually judge sin, or not? Do you want a God who will only judge the sins that offend you? That, dear friends, is not you wanting God to be different. Instead, that is you wanting to sit on the throne of God.

 

The Bible reveals to us the true God who created the universe. The Scriptures show us Jesus, God the Son, the only way that any of us can be right with our Creator. We should recognize that, in truth, it does not matter if we understand or even approve of all of God’s ways. He is greater than us anyway. But we should instead be willing to submit to the perfections and the holiness of the God who made us, whose ways are not ours, and who has all right to judge.