Meeting Jesus As Judge
The depth of intimacy with our Lord affords a liberty and honesty in our relationship like no other. No one will ever know us to the minutest detail as He. We have great assurance and confidence in Him, knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us. Jesus, as the perfect Husband, exhibits an unparalleled patience with His bride. He affords us an extended grace period or honeymoon, where we become secure in His undying love. When our relationship is strong and stable, as King, He is also faithful to begin to reveal truth to us about our character. He shows us weaknesses and flaws that do not conform to His image and likeness. Jesus is a faithful Bridegroom/ King who confronts us, and works in us to conform our character to His likeness.
We are a Bride Awaiting Our Bridegroom
Jesus is returning for a bride that is without spot or wrinkle. We know that Jesus must have a bride that bears His image. The bride, who is the church, must make herself ready (Rev. 19:7-8). If we examine the betrothal process of the Hebrew culture, we can begin to understand how to embrace the intimate relationship the Lord desires.
It was customary for a Hebrew young man to prepare a Ketubah, a marriage contract (a covenant), which he presented to his intended bride and her father. Included in this covenant was the Bride Price, an appropriate gesture in Jewish society meant to compensate the young woman’s parents for the cost of raising her. In addition, and more importantly, the payment was considered an expression of the man’s love for his intended bride. This betrothal covenant was legally binding once the bride and her family accepted the terms of his Ketubah.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, We had everything before us, we had nothing before us. We were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens opens his classic, A Tale of Two Cities with a series of paradoxical statements that paints a vivid picture of tumultuous times in England and France. The year is 1775, and while England is soon to lose its grip on the American colonies, France is soon to face total anarchy as the peasants arise to overthrow a corrupt and decadent regime. England is rife with crime and France with poverty. While life for the nobility was exquisite, the lower class struggled to survive. The plight of the times raised serious questions about man’s ability to rule justly and the desire of man’s heart to serve selflessly.
The word “judgment” has received bad press, and that bad press has mostly come from the church….
In one extreme, parts of the church are now saying that God does NOT judge; He’s too nice and loving to do such a thing. This has been carried to heresy in those that deny the existence of hell and of a final judgment after death. Those who hold to such a view do not know the Lord in His awe-inspiring beauty and justice. If there is no judgment of sin, action and lawlessness, then God cannot be a just God. If He is not just, then He is not holy, without mixture. In denying this aspect of His holy nature, man thus has successfully remade God in our fallen image (at least what we would LIKE Him to be).
(It is highly recommended to go back and read Part 1 of this continuation to have a better understanding of the main premise.)
Counsel Between Friends
While on their way to judge Sodom and Gomorrah the Lord and His angels stopped at Abraham’s encampment. Sodom and Gomorrah had become the most wicked cities on the face of the earth. A grievous cry against the people of this valley had reached the throne of God and come before the face of the Lord. Genesis 18:20 tells us, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave“. In these cities, perversion was not only permitted but was also encouraged and promoted. Romans 1:32 and Hebrews 6:4-6 describes such behavior as representative of a debased mind, a mind that is reprobate…so seared that it is impossible to renew it again to repentance. The bowl of iniquity hanging over Sodom and Gomorrah was full, and God was about to allow them to reap what had been sewn, but on His way to judge, God stops to discuss His plans with Abraham. Why?
God never intended for man to spend his life in search of his identity or purpose. In the book of Genesis, God declares man’s identity and purpose as he introduces mankind to the universe. Genesis 1:26-28 says:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit united in special counsel and effort to produce creation’s masterpiece.
Eph. 2:10: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
It has often been said (as quoted in the “four spiritual laws”) that God has a wonderful plan for our lives. This is most definitely true, but I think that we have not consistently looked at this statement through the lens of scripture and reality, but mostly through the lens of western cultural thought. We need to rethink all of this to get to the essence of true living and kingdom impact that the Lord intended for us in fulfilling His desires and plans, and in being fulfilled in our destinies.
Acts 3:19-21: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”
Rev. 18:1-5: “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.’ And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.’”
Both the Old and New Testament foretell of a “Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” yet to come. This seemingly paradoxical description comes clearly into focus as we recognize that our position (either in Christ or not) will determine just what kind of day it will be for us. This “Day” is a period of time which is fast approaching. It promises to evoke a full spectrum of emotions ranging from spectacular awe to a terror that will drive even the hardest, most rebellious heart to hide in fear and dread of the approaching wrath of God. Can we know when this day is coming? Where we will stand? How we should prepare?
“Have you heard the latest prophetic word?” “Have you heard the latest revelatory teaching?” “The move of God at (fill in the blank) has to be the beginning of the final move of God in the earth!” “There’s no need for the local fellowship anymore, your business can be your ‘church’ and missions organization!”
“The ‘Bridal Paradigm’ has fulfilled all my longings and questions! The ‘Seven Mountains’ teaching has finally set my heart to rest because now I know my destiny! Praise the Lord, we can now all come to rest because all our questions, desires and destinies have now been answered!”
I have literally heard with my own ears statements like these. Such is my personal observation of how many in the “charismatic” wing of the body of Christ have acted and reacted for many years. Everyone is looking for “IT” – the one thing that will bring revival, rest, healing, fulfillment…again, fill in the blank. The enemy continues to keep hungry, but deceived Christians from coming to rest on the solid Rock of Jesus Christ by the excitement that many leaders continue to foment. I know this, because I have done “IT” in the past.