“Some are trapped in boxes of pea-sized Christianity, full of myths about missions that rob them of incentive to care about the unreached.”

David Bryant

TODAY’S READING: Ezekiel 18–20

Because God is the Creator of the whole earth and the Lord of history, He has creator rights to do as He pleases with any nation. Because God is God, His judgments are always right, always justified.

It is one thing to make such affirmations. It is another to defend them before a shocked and smarting people, for whom the fall of Jerusalem proved only that YHWH was incompetent or unfair… On the contrary, argued Ezekiel…what YHWH had done was utterly justified by the persistent and incorrigible rebellion of the house of Israel. Israel’s flagrant sin had left God with no moral alternative but to punish them. Not only must Israel be made to know that YHWH had done nothing against Jerusalem “without cause”…the nations too will come to know it, in order that the justice of God’s ways may be known on earth.[1]

Ezekiel’s point was that justice is central to God’s rule over every nation. Ezekiel’s view of Israel’s history was that God had not given them what they deserved in order to protect His own name among the nations (Eze. 20:9). God had revealed Himself to His people in the sight of the nations, and the nations were keen observers of the interaction, for it was exemplary of how things would go for them if they submitted to Jehovah’s rule. The Judge of the earth will surely do right, for the character of God is exercised in forgiveness and mercy, extended to all nations, not just Israel.[2] Biblically, the mercy of Jehovah is never a cancellation of hell or judgment but a potential inclusion of all the peoples of earth in His mercy. The Judge of all the earth will send all unrepentant sinners to hell (including Israelites) and He will invite all repentant sinners to His eternal heaven (including Gentiles). It is in this missionary application of extended mercy that the Judge of all the earth does right.

Today’s “unfair” cry is that a good God would never eternally punish man in hell. The twin blindness of this thinking is (1) a tainted view of how merciful and holy God is and (2) a twisted view of how evil man is. The Bible clearly states that God is not willing that any should perish and He takes no delight in the death of the wicked. It clearly states that God is patient beyond all reasonable limits. It clearly states that what God did for Israel He wants to do for all people—and this means both heaven and hell. Biblically, the sting of hell is addressed in this simple way: It’s eternally real, but you don’t have to go there. In fact, no person from any people needs to suffer there eternally. The mercy of God does not remove the reality of hell; the mercy of God has made a way for all peoples to live eternally blessed in heaven. Because God is just and the Justifier of all peoples, hell is just and justified. In fact, hell proves both the justice and mercy of God. It proves His justice, for it’s what we all deserve. It proves His mercy, for He painfully paid for a means of escape. The Judge of all the earth did right.

[1] Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. 98–99.
[2] Nathan MacDonald. “Listening to Abraham – Listening to YHWH: Divine Justice and Mercy in Genesis 18:16–33.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 66 (2004). 25–43.

Prayer Focus: United Arab Emirates

Today’s Unreached People Group: Bedouin, Gulf
Population: 794,000
Language: Arabic, Gulf Spoken
Primary Religion: Islam
Evangelical: 0.0%
Estimated Workers Needed: 16

[Source: Joshua Project]

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