Sunday, February 28, 2010
God does judge in time.
This morning I listened to a sermon that I radically disagreed with. Our Rector expounded Luke 13:1-9, and came to the conclusion that a loving God does not judge individuals in this life, and that the calamities that befall men and nations are not from the hand of God.
1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’”
The image of the fig tree is a repeated image throughout Scripture that represents Old Covenant Israel. The reference to the fig tree in this parable is primarily to the Israel of Jesus' day. He was portending the immanent 'charem' that was to be pronounced upon the nation, whose apostasy had become so serious, that it was to be judged irrevocably.
Sure, space was given for repentance, and the goodness and lovingkindness of the lord persevered for another 40 years after the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the tree did not bring forth the looked for fruit, and eventually was crushed to powder by the stone which was rejected.
Jesus was equalizing the sinfulness of His co-extant generation. The self-righteous sinners could not point to the victims of Pilate's bloodletting, and the catastrophe of the tower of Siloam and say that they were more righteous than those victims. God's judgments are not predictable specifically, but they are predictable inevitably. It is only genuine repentance that will stay the hand of God's judgment. And even though God may tarry, and give space for repentance, if there is no repentance, then rest assured, God will wipe the wicked from the face of the earth, because He is angry with the wicked every day. This is Bible, and this is the Word of the Lord.