Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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July 7, 1998
Last Updated :
October 8, 2013
Judgment In This Life, Roman Persecution Of The First Century Church, Evangelization Through Persecution, Great Commission, Positive Fruit Results From Persecution, Importance Of Being Consistent With Child Discipline, Fiery Prophets And God's Stiff Warnings, Israelites Refused To Listen, God's Pity For His Children, God Desires Repentance Healing And Restoration
While we all know that we will eventually face judgment if we choose to not turn away from our evil ways, what some people may not realize is that judgment is not necessarily reserved just for the final Day Of Judgment. In the case of God's children who are called by His Name, according to the Apostle Peter, our judgment begins in this very life. As you may already know, the persecution against the First Century Church began in Jerusalem -- instigated by the unbelieving Jewish religious hierarchy in collusion with the local Roman procurator Pontius Pilate -- and grew even worse years later under the tyrannical reign of Roman emperor Nero, and later emperors such as Diocletian during the early Fourth Century. It may very well have been Nero's initial persecution which motivated the Apostle Peter to write the following sentence in his first Epistle:
"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?"
1 Peter 4:17, KJV
As I explain in other articles such as "Civil Disobedience and Christian Persecution", I am convinced that God in fact allowed this persecution in order that the Christian Gospel might be carried beyond the borders of Israel, and into all the world, according to Jesus' own mandate. This is evident in the following two verses where we see Jesus' command in Acts 1:8, and the beginning of its fulfillment in Acts 8:1 Please notice the reversed Bible verse references:
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Acts 1:8, KJV
"And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles."
Acts 8:1, KJV
Following are some additional verses which are found in the pages of the New Testament which clearly describe for us our Great Commission; that is, the Christian evangelization of the whole world under the Guidance and Power of the Lord's Holy Spirit:
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
Matthew 24:14, KJV
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"
Matthew 28:19, KJV
"And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Luke 24:46-47, KJV
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
Mark 16:15, KJV
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."
John 15:16, KJV
"And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house . . . Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
Acts 20:20, 31, KJV
"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things . . . So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Romans 10:14-15, 17, KJV
"For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!"
1 Corinthians 9:16, KJV
"Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things."
Galatians 6:6, KJV
"Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:"
Colossians 1:4-6, KJV
"And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."
2 Timothy 2:2, KJV
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."
2 Timothy 4:2, KJV
As you can see, while at first glance, persecution may seem like a bad thing, the truth is that God has a very positive purpose in allowing it to happen. In other words, good fruit -- in the form of greater evangelization and souls being won to the Lord -- can result from it. I am reminded of one of Jesus' Parables that is found in the Gospel of Luke:
"He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."
Luke 13:6-9, KJV
Digging about the tree, and fertilizing it with dung, can be compared to persecution, in that it caused the tree to become fruitful, whereas before it had been barren. Has God ever lit the fires of persecution under you because you were not being as productive for Him as you should have been? If so, you may wish to read articles such as "Sluggards and Sloths: Are You Diligent and Faithful in the Affairs of God's Kingdom?", "Are You a Burning Ember for the Lord?" and "Christian Witnessing: Winning the Sheep and Waging the Warfare".
At any rate, based upon the Apostle Peter's previous remarks, I personally believe that the Lord may judge and chastise us on a regular day-to-day basis, just as we likewise judge and chasten our natural children on a daily basis, if and when it becomes necessary. As many experienced parents will know, if we let down our guard for even one day with our children, we are asking for trouble; because this may be viewed as a sign of weakness and a lack of moral conviction by our children. When problems do occur, oft times it is because the parents have failed to be consistent in their dealings with their children. As we are clearly told in the Book of Proverbs, to spare, or to hold back, the rod of correction, is to spoil the child:
"He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."
Proverbs 13:24, KJV
"Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying."
Proverbs 19:18, KJV
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it . . . Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."
Proverbs 22:6, 15, KJV
"Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."
Proverbs 23:13-14, KJV
"The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame . . . Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul."
Proverbs 29:15, 17, KJV
Following are some additional Scriptures regarding the topic of youthful foolishness, child discipline and our Christian parental responsibilities:
"The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother."
Proverbs 10:1, KJV
"A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke."
Proverbs 13:1, KJV
"A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother."
Proverbs 15:20, KJV
"A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back."
Proverbs 26:3, KJV
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Ephesians 6:1-4, KJV
"Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."
Colossians 3:20-21, KJV
"Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;"
1 Timothy 3:3-4, KJV
Returning to our main topic, considering the fact that the Lord clearly beholds our evil ways, if the judgment of His children begins in this life, what form does this judgment usually take? As I pointed out earlier, a clear answer can be found in the Old Testament by examining His many dealings with the rebellious children of Israel. God exercised a lot of patience with them, and continually warned them to repent of their evil deeds through the mouths of His fiery Prophets. In some instances -- such as with the young Prophet Jeremiah who warned his rebellious brethren for approximately forty years -- these warnings to repent were sometimes issued for many years before the judgment actually befell them. Sadly, in many cases, the foolish Israelites refused to listen, and did not take heed to the Lord's warnings, as we can determine by the following set of verses:
"Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me:"
Numbers 32:11, KJV
"And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them."
1 Samuel 8:7, KJV
"Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them. But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel."
2 Kings 21:8-9, KJV
"Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day. Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly: Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them. For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works."
Nehemiah 9:32-35, KJV
"Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest."
Psalms 95:8-11, KJV
"They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand."
Isaiah 44:18, KJV
"And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination."
Jeremiah 2:7, KJV
"For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge."
Jeremiah 4:22, KJV
"O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return."
Jeremiah 5:3, KJV
"Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it."
Jeremiah 6:19, KJV
"But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee. But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth."
Jeremiah 7:23-28, KJV
"But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction."
Jeremiah 17:23, KJV
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil. And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them: Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the LORD, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the LORD."
Jeremiah 29:17-19, KJV
"And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them . . . And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction."
Jeremiah 32:23, 33, KJV
"Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered."
Jeremiah 35:17, KJV
"And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not."
Jeremiah 36:31, KJV
"Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwelleth therein, Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers. Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods."
Jeremiah 44:2-5, KJV
"Thus saith the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her. And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye multiplied more than the nations that are round about you, and have not walked in my statutes, neither have kept my judgments, neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you; Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations."
Ezekiel 5:5-9, KJV
"They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD."
Hosea 5:4, KJV
"Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me. Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me. They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt."
Hosea 7:13-16, KJV
"Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD."
Zechariah 1:3-4, KJV
"But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts."
Zechariah 7:11-12, KJV
"These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me."
John 16:1-3, KJV
"But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?"
Romans 10:16, KJV
"When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."
Hebrews 3:9-13, KJV
For literally hundreds and hundreds of years, the Lord kept sending them His anointed Judges and Prophets. He begged the rebellious descendants of Abraham to forsake their sins, and to return to Him with their whole hearts. As a result, no one can say that God does not pity His weak children. Consider the following verses which clearly demonstrate His patience, love and mercy. As you will see, God's desire is definitely not to destroy His children. Rather, it is that we reach a point of repentance, so that He can heal us, and restore us to our fellowship with Him:
"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."
Psalms 103:13-14, KJV
"I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them."
Isaiah 63:7-10, KJV
"For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men."
Lamentations 3:31-33, KJV
"Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
Ezekiel 33:11, KJV
"But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went."
Ezekiel 36:21, KJV
"Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people."
Joel 2:18, KJV
"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish . . . Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?"
Matthew 18:10-14, 33, KJV
"And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village."
Luke 9:51-56, KJV
"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Luke 19:10, KJV
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
John 3:16-17, KJV
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9, KJV
"And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."
Hebrews 12:5-13, KJV
Please go to part three for the continuation of this series.
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