Three Unforgettable Outpourings of Divine Displeasure
By Al Stoner
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. ” (I Cor. 10:11).
In this time of great departures from, and rebellion against, the LORD, and against His Christ, it is good for us to consider again what the Scripture declares about such things. The times when God winked at ignorance of His will and purpose have long passed. Ignorement, on the part of men, of impending judgment will not in any wise delay or abort that judgment. The Divine expectancy that men must repent and turn from their wicked ways is no less intense than it was centuries and millennia ago. “The heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word [that sent the flood waters in Noah’s day] are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (II Pet. 3:7). The society in which we presently live is running pell-mell down the road to everlasting destruction, and that which claims to be the church is, by and large, catering to men a “milk toast” gospel that neither wounds nor heals. The church of the living God is the pillar and the ground of the truth. If the world does not hear the truth from the church, as God has ordained, from whence, pray tell, will they hear it?
Three Specific Occasions of Note. “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people (Israel) out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 5-7; cf. II Pet. 2:4-15; Lk. 17:32).
We see immediately here three specific representative examples, demonstrating that, when it comes to rebellion against Him, the great and exalted Jehovah, by His very Nature, is completely intolerant of, and does not respect persons, covenantal relationship to Him, or proximity to Him. Because of the very nature of His Person, with Him, “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (I Sam. 15:23).
The mention here of Sodom and Gomorrah is particularly relevant in our day, as the memory of these cities lives on in infamy, for the full-blown exploitation of reprehensible sexual perversions. Jude, speaking on this matter, declared: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7). Like the shameless and brazen sinners in Isaiah’s day, so these “declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not” (Isa. 3:9).
The Foolish Claim of Irrelevance. Most religious people of our day are either ignorant that declarations such as this are in the Word of God, or if they are known, they are summarily dismissed as being irrelevant to our time, or they don't care. Some, in affirming the irrelevance, would argue, "well, that was Israel", failing to comprehend that the God who did not countenance rebellion with regard to His covenanted people Israel is the same God who sent His Son into the world that we should not perish, but would rather live unto God through Him. "These things were written for our learning upon whom the ends of the world are come."
Others would reason, that now that Christ has come, God is merciful, (and perhaps, can even overlook one’s sin?). There is no question at all that God is merciful, more so than we are able to comprehend in the present time. But God’s mercy has not been truly perceived, except it has been seen against the grievously dark backdrop of our lost estate because of sin. God’s mercy has been seen when it is hoped in, and looked for, and trusted in.
Some speak foolishly of God’s mercy as if it were their free ticket to Heaven, regardless of how they live. They reason that since God is merciful, He will overlook their heedless manner of living. Such is a damnable misrepresentation of God's Person and Character! God was merciful in the Garden, and therefore our first parents were not cast away from His Presence forever. God was merciful to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, giving them promises of the coming Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. And, in the time of the Law, God Himself declared that He is a God who pardons iniquity, and shows mercy unto thousands (who love Him and keep His commandments)(cf. Exod. 20:6; Deut. 5:10)! This is not a revelation of how God conducts Himself under a certain covenant, but rather a revelation of the Person of God Himself. He changes not. He Himself declared, "I am the Lord, I change not" (Mal. 3:6). God's mercy has come to men at a great cost, even the offering up of God's Son for us all.
But God is also a jealous God. His Name is Jealous. (cf. Exod. 34:14; 20:5; Deut. 4:24; 5:9; 6:15; Josh. 24:19). These repeated affirmations of God being a jealous God in the time of "the first covenant" (Heb. 9:1) must not lead us to conclude that now, somehow, God has changed. Quite the contrary, these affirmations of His jealousy were not intended merely to give men information about God's Person, in dissociation from His eternal purpose. Neither, it seems, were they given merely to frighten, or threaten men. (All He had to do was appear unto them, and they would "exceedingly fear and quake" (Heb. 12:21), and some even thought they were going to die (cf. Jdgs. 13:22). And these were mostly angelic appearances, not God Himself (cf. Heb. 2:2; Gal. 3:19; Acts 7:53).
These affirmations were given to teach men about God's Person, the way He is, and the way He thinks. He thinks this way, because He is this way. It seems that God was instructing men about His Character, with the intent that they, as His offspring, would eventually be brought to reason as He does, and not offend Him in any way. But also, these revelations of God's jealousy, it seems, were preparatory for the entrance of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world.
When God's covenanted people departed from His ways, and broke His commandments, this most certainly provoked Him to jealousy. But now with regard to Jesus, His only begotten Son, His jealousy has reached its pinnacle. Now the connection with His eternal purpose in Christ has become clear. "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Mt. 3:17), He exclaimed from Heaven at Christ's baptism.
Further expressing this thought of jealousy in parabolic form, the Savior declared the tenderness of heart of His Father with the following words. "They will reverence My Son" (Mt. 21:37; Mk. 12:6), He affirmed to "the chief priests and the elders of the people", who "came unto Him". In Luke's gospel, it is expressed in this way, "What shall I (the Father) do? I will send My beloved Son: it may be they will reverence Him when they see Him" (Lk. 20:13). Oh, with what tenderness the Savior speaks, even in the face of oppositions! It may be that they will reverence Him when they see Him.
Jude is summoning to our remembrance here very real occurrences from ages past, which, when duly considered by men, will have a decisive bearing upon their manner of living in “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4). These words of the Apostle Jude ought to be a wake-up call to all people who are living casually in ignorement of the God that made them for His own pleasure (Rev. 4:11)!
The multiplied delusions (i.e., misrepresentations of God, Christ, the Spirit, and salvation) which Satan has sown in the world (the “once-saved-always-saved” and deterministic doctrines being two notable examples of them) have had the subtle effect of fostering carelessness among men and women in their relation Godward, and even persuading them that the God of Heaven really is not as severe as the representations given here by Jude. Today the Devil is still spreading the same lie (now garbed in a variety of forms) that he spoke to Eve: “You shall not surely die!” “particularly if you ignore and disobey the One to whom you owe your very being.”
Men and women must learn this lesson well (in spite of all the satanic deception in the world designed to neutralize, and even impeach, this sobering consideration from men’s thinking) that persistent willful sinning on the part of any of God’s creatures is an extremely dangerous practice, and it will not, and can not, go unpunished. It matters not whether the creatures are a people in covenant relation to God (old or new covenant, it matters not, cf. Heb. 10:26), an uncovenanted people (the Gentiles), or angels. God’s response to deliberate persistent sinning is consistent! His own righteous Character demands that sin be punished severely, more severely than most are willing to consider!
Christ Forewarning His Friends. "And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him” (Lk. 12:4-5). God, in receiving men unto Himself, can only do so on the terms set forth in the gospel. If men step outside of those bounds, and are no longer abiding in His Son, God has no choice but to cast such ones away from His Presence. He cannot deny Himself. The Savior was here giving admonition to His friends. He said in another place, “Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jn. 15:4). Let all those who profess the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ ever be on guard against the sin of presumption!
These three unforgettable outpourings of Divine displeasure, recorded in the opening paragraph above, stand forever as monumental landmarks from time and memorial, ever witnessing faithfully, to whomsoever will hear, of God’s mind regarding rebellious creaturely behavior.