6 “For I am the Lord, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
(Malachi 3:6 NKJV)
That was and remains a promise of our merciful God, written in the OLD Testament, to us all – both the bloodline of Jacob as well as the children of promise, the Gentile ingathering through Christ.
That, in combination with this next NT revealed truth ought to end all arguments as to God’s constancy regarding crime and punishment – Hebrews might even cause the sober-minded to conclude the Lord has actually upped the ante on our accountability, along with providing us with the greater intimacy of sonship through the atoning work of the cross:
2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,
3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him
(Hebrews 2:2-3 NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews rightly brought that admonishment forth in the NT, for us.
“Every transgression received a just reward” ought to quickly sober us to the fact that God is ultimately fairer and more merciful than we will ever be.
Pre-Flood, the world became more and more evil, until the thoughts of men’s heart were only wicked continually (Gen 6:5).
Likewise, the current world is simply not as wicked as it is eventually going to become. Jesus told us that, so if you care to disagree, I’d say argue with Him:
21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
26 “ Therefore if they say to you, ‘ Look, He is in the desert! ’ do not go out; or ‘ Look, He is in the inner rooms! ’ do not believe it. (Local looking by the way. Few argue His target return destination is His beloved Israel)
27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
(Matthew 24:21-27 NKJV)
Personally I do not see Matthew 24 being conclusively fulfilled during 70AD (a popular belief among some) simply because the far more wicked and numerically greater genocides of Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Lenin, etc. all trumped the horrific destruction of Jerusalem by Titus’ Roman army. And v 27 told us that the “coming of the Son of Man” is attached to that (never-to-be-trumped) final troubling.
Because the current world is not as bad as it will eventually be (re: 2 Timothy 3:1-5 – referring to last days), when the Church reads verses about God’s prophesied final actions towards a fully-matured wicked world (in both OT and NT writings), some are inclined to struggle, in their limited-perspective human mercy, to allow God to be God. Yet He will not change. Nor will He be made in our image.
The jeopardy of embracing a doctrine denying God’s judgments and corrections can be understood from a quick look into the historic account from the book of 1 Maccabees, in the Apocrypha.
10 The wicked ruler Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus the Third of Syria, was a descendant of one of Alexander’s generals. Antiochus Epiphanes had been a hostage in Rome before he became king of Syria in the year 137. (That 137 citation is a year-dating from Greek calculations used during that period. All of history confirms that Antiochus Epiphanes lived during the inter-testamental period)
11 At that time there appeared in the land of Israel a group of traitorous Jews who had no regard for the Law and who had a bad influence on many of our people. They said,
Let’s come to terms with the Gentiles, for our refusal to associate with them has brought us nothing but trouble.
12 This proposal appealed to many people,
13 and some of them became so enthusiastic about it that they went to the king and received from him permission to follow Gentile customs.
14 They built in Jerusalem a stadium like those in the Greek cities.
15 They had surgery performed to hide their circumcision, abandoned the holy covenant, started associating with Gentiles, and did all sorts of other evil things.
(1 Maccabees 1, Good News Translation)
God had instructed His covenant people to follow His commandments, at which time they would prosper. And He had told them in the past that disobedience would often be punished by the “blows of the sons of men” – God utilizing the services of other nations:
14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. (2 Samuel 7:14 NKJV)
During the period between Malachi and the New Testament, God may have ceased prophetically SPEAKING with His errant people, but He did not stop DEALING with His errant people.
Their sin rendered them ripe for correction. Along comes Antiochus Epiphanes, the prototypical anti-christ of the era before Jesus. Israel was ripe for his coming onto the scene (sound familiar?). Through disobedience and justification of their ways, instead of repentance, the people of God had ceased being the salt of the earth, they were therefore fit to be trodden underfoot…..
Those folks, having abandoned scriptural truth, and refused to accept the fact that God would proactively correct them and punish them for their sins. They could therefore come up with no other conclusion for their troubles than to presume that their sufferings were because they were “different”:
“Let’s come to terms with the Gentiles, for our refusal to associate with them has brought us nothing but trouble. 12 This proposal appealed to many people…”
See the dilemma here? When the people of God refuse to accept the word of God, and the revealed personality of God, as being timeless and true (and fair, perfect, just, constant, etc., etc.) their/our buying into saccharin mercy and grace (Hey – I love real mercy and grace, they keep me going, daily!) what we will steadily morph towards will be this doctrine: “Hey – let’s coexist! The problem with the Church is that we’re not relevant to an ever-changing society. If we’re going to win the world for Christ, let’s be like the world, so they can relate”.
That would mean we no longer are called to hold up a standard of righteousness. That we’re no longer called warn every man. We’d draw no lines regarding lifestyles unacceptable to God – ours or theirs. We’d dial-down our preaching against sin.
The first thing to disappear from the church, when the church modifies or ignores the Word of God, is the power and presence of God. We’re already wondering where the power of God is to heal, deliver, convict and convince. We see a little, at best.
We might still look, smell, and pretend to be Christians, but we’d be preaching and speaking a “kinder and gentler” doctrine than what is biblically presented to us by God. And instead of chancing offending men, to bring them to repentance, we’d be offending God, getting deeper into the hole, denying His jealous dealings with us (as He refuses to affirm our bad behavior), and it can only get worse and worse.
First of all, no one will ever be really kinder and gentler than God. But His kindness and gentleness is wrapped in holiness.
When the Church concludes that being like the world is the answer to our survival (and even key to our flourishing), and refuses to accept the biblical truth that often our troubles MIGHT JUST BE GOD HIMSELF dealing with our sinful nature, then we would be opening the doors to yet another Antiochus Epiphanes – except the one upcoming will fulfill ALL of the prophetic qualifications of Anti-Christ. He is titled that right now, only because we do not yet know his name.
Hosea puts it this way, as he puts forth a timeless call to the people of God to admit they are wrong and to recognize that God was, is, and will always be, right – and that in our repentance (sorrow, regret, and turning back) we are promised the true mercy of outpouring, on His terms.
1 Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
2 After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight.
3 Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.
(Hosea 6:1-3 NKJVS)