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There is an aspect of "God" that nobody wants to talk about anymore. It's pictured in the illustration above. In fact, both the picture, and the Divine Justice it portrays, are religiously, socially and politically "incorrect" in today's world. Oh yes, "God" used to be pretty stern, back in "Old Testament" days, judging unrighteousness and all that, but He seems to have had a change of heart, and now He's harmless as a new kitten. Everybody is OK with Him, whatever they are doing, these days. Somehow He has come to realize that heathens, idolaters, atheists, sodomites, adulterers, whoremongers, apostates, blasphemers, heretics, witches, satanists, murderers of the unborn, in fact, sinners of all types, are entitled to disobey His commandments because they feel like it - and because "Gee-zus" gave them all a free pass to sin as much as they want without fear of Divine punishment. Having been pacified by "Gee-zus", "God" now totally adores all the sinners, whatever they are doing, and He just can't wait to take them all to heaven to be with Him forever, in the "rapture" - at least that's the impression you would get from visiting many churches in America or listening to all the feel-good televangelists and radio preachers who want to "bless you if you will just send in your donation today." Divine justice is out and tolerance of sin is in, don't you know?
Newsflash! While that liberal picture of "God" may be very attractive to many, it is a self-serving lie of the apostate religious system and is not supported by either the "Old Testament" or the "New Testament". “For I, YHWH, do not change" He declares (Mal 3:6).
Look at this:
In the Torah sinners can be accepted by YHWH if they REPENT of their sin (which means turning from sin to obey His Word) and present an acceptable substitutionary sacrifice for atonement. If sinners do not do those things then they face certain Divine Justice resulting in punishment. (Lev 19, 20, 23:26-32)
Under the Gospel sinners can be accepted by YHWH if they REPENT of their sin (which means turning from sin to obey His Word) and present an acceptable substitutionary sacrifice for atonement. If sinners do not do those things then they face certain Divine Justice resulting in punishment. (Matt 4:17, Mark 6:12, Luke 13:3, Acts 2:38, 1 Cor 15:1-11, etc)
Is there a difference? No; in that the requirements for acceptance are the same. Yes; in that under the Gospel we have a better sacrifice in Messiah that is able to secure better promises for us. Does that mean that YHWH has changed and Divine Justice is done away? Impossible!
Here are a few passages out of many showing that Divine Justice is still in force toward believers. PLEASE READ THEM CAREFULLY!
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’ Matt 7:21-23
Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Gal 5:19
I wrote to you in my letter to have no company with sexual sinners; yet not at all meaning with the sexual sinners of this world, or with the covetous and extortionists, or with idolaters; for then you would have to leave the world. But as it is, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who is called a brother who is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortionist. Don’t even eat with such a person. For what have I to do with also judging those who are outside? Don’t you judge those who are within? But those who are outside, God judges. “Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.” 1Cor 5:9-13
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries. A man who disregards the Torah of Moses dies without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance belongs to me,” says the Lord, “I will repay.” Again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:26-31
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?" She said, "Yes, for so much." Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the assembly and upon all who heard these things. Act 5:1-11
Divine Justice is a central feature of the Divine Character, and it should instill in us godly fear and awe of the Almighty. Further, as His people, we are duty-bound to uphold His Divine Justice in our own lives, in our families and in our assemblies. We do this with love and forgiveness where there is repentance and a desire to grow in his ways. However, unrepentant defiance and rebellion must be met with a firm application of the Divine Justice, since His Name is involved. ""You must be holy because I am holy" says YHWH." (Lev 11:45, 1 Peter 1:16)
In Leviticus 24 YHWH established due process of Divine Justice among His people, to judge cases of evil in their midst. A few words about changes in circumstances since then will aid your understanding of how that passage applies today.
Since Biblical Israel then was a sovereign nation, that process included jurisdiction of the civil law, as well as the spiritual law. Civil jurisdiction even included the death sentence when called for, as it still does in many civil jurisdictions today.
Since before the "New Testament" era, and especially in the exile, the civil law has been placed under the jurisdiction of the respective civil government under which we live. That means the punishment for capital crimes found in Leviticus 24 is now in the hands of the civil government, not in the hands of Yah's people. This is Yah's order at this time and the civil government needs to be respected in its rightful jurisdiction.
However, unrepentant gross sin by those claiming to be brethren must still be judged by the assembly, according to Yah's Word, with the most severe judgment open to the assembly being expulsion. From there, punishment is left in Messiah's hands. Understanding this history helps in understanding Leviticus 24, which sets the precedent for courts, due process, and judgments among His people. Please join us for this Midrash, as we consider this vital chapter. (Rom 13, 1 Cor 5+6)
Blessings and Shalom,
Eliyahu Ben David