The Post No One Will Want to Read…

If we are trying to “know God” as J.I. Packer’s book implies [after all, the title is Knowing God] it would be most appropriate to know as many aspects of God as we can.  John Ortberg wrote a book a few years ago that had a snappy title: “Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them”.   There is a nugget of truth in this title, and I think it may apply to knowing God.   To make it apply, we need to adapt it and come up with a J.I. Packer version: “Everybody’s Happy Till You Come to Realize that God is Your Judge”. 

To know God is to know that He is going to judge our humanly behavior.  That is serious because all of us fail to behave in a “righteous” manner all the time.  We all sin [we all have that burden left over from The Garden].

So here we are.  To know God is to accept the fact that He is our Judge.  Packer pulls no punches:  he writes “God has resolved to be everyone’s Judge, rewarding every person according to his works.  Retribution is the inescapable moral law of creation; God will see that each person sooner or later receives what he deserves—if not here, then hereafter” [143]. 

Let’s “drill down” with more Packer on God as Judge:  “the doctrine of divine judgement, and particularly of the final judgement, is not to be thought of primarily as a bogey with which to frighten men into an outward form of conventional ‘righteousness.’ It has its frightening implications for godless men, it is true; but its main thrust is as a revelation of the moral character of God and an imparting of moral significance to human life” [143-44].

Oh my; I guess what I do in this life matters…to God, my Judge.

For people who like to enjoy all aspects of life, this is not good news.  What Packer is saying is that some stuff that we do is not good for us [especially as regards our afterlife].

Everybody’s Happy Till You Come to Realize that God is Your Judge.

He is, but what is involved in God being our Judge?

First of all, an earthy judge is a person who has authority.  In Bible times, the king had supreme ruling authority, including the authority to judge subjects.  For that matter, God is the Creator of the world and if He owns it, He has the supreme authority to do with it what He wants.  He certainly has made laws for us and if you believe in them, you want to keep them [after all, aren’t they for our own good?].  If one takes the Bible world as the context to determine what a judge was (in the Bible world), a judge gives laws and judges how man obeys said laws. 

Secondly, a judge is a person who is identified with what is good and right.  The modern idea of a judge is that the judge dispenses justice according to a complex set of laws and interpretations of those laws.  The modern judge is supposed to be “dispassionate” in the dispensing of justice.  The Biblical judge is more involved.  God hates people who hurt others.  God loves justice and fair play [note the word “loves”].  “God loves righteousness and hates iniquity” [Packer, 141].  God is not dispassionate; He wants good and right to win out every time, no matter what.

Thirdly, God as judge personifies wisdom and truth.  God does not have to do the things that an earthly judge does; listening to questions, listening to cross examination, trying to determine if lying has occurred and making an effort to establish how “matters really stand.”  God does not have to do this; He is omniscient.  Our Father knows the heart of man; He does not have to search out facts.  He has all the facts.  When we sin, God knows.  We think we can hide our behaviors but that is absurd.  We think our outward behaviors mask the true intentions of the heart, but that is equally absurd.  God knows all; God judges the secrets of men, not just their public veneer.

Lastly, the judge has the power to execute the sentence on the one judged.  With God, the Judge executes the sentence.  A modern judge may declare the sentence but another department of the justice system carries out the sentence.  In Bible times, the king (acting as judge) declared the sentence and someone else carried it out.  God is His own executioner.  He sentences and He punishes.

There is a bothersome underlying idea in all this “God as Judge discussion”.

Here it is: retribution.

None of us want to think of a God passing final judgement on us, especially if God is going to dole out retribution.  Leviticus 24: 17-22 is pretty clear:  “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.  Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life.  If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him.  Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death. You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God.” 

Is God going to give people what they deserve?  If they are good, they will be rewarded with good.  If they are evil, they will be rewarded with evil.

Is this popular?

No…

We all want a break…don’t we?  Please God “cut us some slack”.

I am afraid we all worry about the negative nature of retribution and we worry so much that we don’t even want to face the fact that God may dole out eternal consequences for the life we are living here on earth. 

Much easier to ignore God as Judge. 

Everybody’s Happy Till You Come to Realize that God is Your Judge.

Maybe we need to close with another version of this opening adaptation, the “eternal” version:  “Everybody’s Eternally Unhappy if You Don’t Realize that God is Your Judge.”

There it is: the “bogey with which to frighten men.”

The perfect way to end the “Post That No One Will Want to Read.”

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