In this series on Judgment we have looked at every description of judgment Scripture gives us; and we have seen how in every instance it points towards restoration and life. Judgment is never final, it is never the end. The end is always life; the very life of Christ.
We also saw at the beginning of this series some principles concerning Judgment; namely that, 1 – Judgment Begins with the House of God, 2 – Judgment Corrects, 3 – True Justice demands a Finite Judgment (there is a limit to all judgment), 4 – Judgment restores the victim and corrects the sinner, and finally 5 – Mercy triumphs over judgment. We also saw in the last blog another principle: 6 – the Law upon which all judgment is founded will one day pass away.
This blog will be a continuation of those principles and will present a few final ones related to Judgment to conclude the series. In this blog we will look at the fact that; 7 – Judgment is Good, 8 – Mercy is built into the Law (especially as it concerns the Law of the Jubilee), and 9 – that the Law cannot override the Promises of God (a.k.a the Old Covenant upon which all judgment will be administered cannot trump the New Covenant and its promises of restoration). So lets get right into it.
Judgment is Good
We have seen previously how God’s Judgments are based upon His Law; and His Law demands mercy to be administered in judgment and protects the rights of both the victims and the criminals. This is b/c God is Good, He is not vengeful nor is He cruel. He is compassionate and extremely merciful to all His creatures. So His Judgments are designed to bring restoration to the victim and correction to the sinner. This is why Paul says of the Law,
“So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good…For we know that the Law is spiritual,” (Romans 7:12,14)
Have you ever noticed that before? The Law is Good! Even though the Law is the source of so much condemnation and death; it is still Good! The reason it is good is b/c it condemns sin, and therefore condemns our old fallen nature. And the sentence it gives our old man is death. And the remedy to our fallen, broken situation is the death of all that is corrupt within us. Lets look at a bit more of that passage above,
“What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law…for apart from the Law sin is dead…and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.” (Romans 7:7-14)
That passage can be very confusing and is hard for some people to wrap their minds around. But its quite simple. The Law is good, giving us the right way to live and act towards God and our neighbor. But any failure/sin results in the penalty of death. This is why Paul rhetorically asks, “If the Law results in me paying the penalty of death…how is the Law still good?” The answer as Paul shows is b/c the only thing that fails to keep the law is a sinful nature, therefore the Law puts SIN to death. Sin does not have our best interests in mind, nor the interests of our neighbor – therefore the Law is good b/c it condemns sin in the flesh. It demands that that old man/nature must be put to death; and its death will liberate us from its bondage so that we are free to live to God in newness of life and His Spirit. So even though we are fallen, sinful creatures with a wicked nature within us the Law is still spiritual and good.
Seeing that God’s Law is good we can infer that His judgments (which are based upon His Law) are also good. His Judgments, which are the outworking of His Law, puts our sin to death. His Judgments kill that old, fallen, wicked nature within us. And it is ONLY the old nature within us that is put to death. That part of us that is created in God’s image remains.
For God is Good and Loving and Merciful and therefore He begets His nature in us before He kills our old man. This is in order that as the Old Man passes away by the judgments of the Law, the New Man comes to life and grows within us; even as Christ was begotten and grew within Mary.
Some may say, “well the lost do not have Christ growing in them.” And I will agree that they do not… at least for now. What they also don’t have is the fullness of God’s judgment falling upon them…at least for now. All Judgment for unbelievers will begin at the Great White Throne Judgment; and it just so happens that their judgment will take place after,
“Every knee bows and every tongue confesses Jesus Christ as Lord.” (Philippians 2:10,11)
And since Scripture says that “if you confess Jesus Christ as Lord you will be saved,” (Romans 10:9) the great mass of unbelievers will have God’s nature begotten within them before they are subjected to the Judgments of the Law. Therefore as they endure the refining fires of God’s Law this Scripture will be fulfilled in them,
“though [their] outer (old) man is decaying (passing away), yet [their] inner (new) man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
So in the end all Judgment is Good. It will bring an end to our wayward ways. And leave only that very image of God within us which is created in righteousness.
The Law of the Jubilee
The Law also has, built right into it, the liberation of all who incur its wrath. For no matter how awful the crime and no matter how awful the punishment, the Law of Jubilee trumps it all. For in the Law no punishment could extend beyond the Jubilee, where every man was set free from his debt to return to his inheritance. In the Law all sinners were to make restitution to those they wronged. If they were unable to pay the penalty they were sold for their iniquity in order to pay it off; a.k.a – they were sold into slavery, bondage. Remember what we just saw Paul mention above, about how we are carnal?
“For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin?”
He also says that,
“we are enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:6,14,20; see also John 8:34)
Therefore the Law is prophesying of something spiritual; b/c “the Law is spiritual.” This is actually a very extensive study, one which we don’t have time to look at in detail; however, for now, I will just mention that in Scripture all sin is reckoned as a debt.
“forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4; compare with Matthew 6:12)
“Behold, you were sold for your iniquities,” (Isaiah 50:1; see also Exodus 22:1-15)
All mankind has been sold into bondage b/c of our sin debt, more accurately, due to Adam’s sin. There is a parable in Scripture concerning Adam and how b/c of his sin he owed an impossible debt; and,
“since he (Adam) did not have the means to repay, his Lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had.” (Matthew 18:25)
Adam had dominion over all the earth, and now all creation along with all mankind (his offspring) are all in bondage to corruption. BUT!!! Since the Law is spiritual, the Law of Jubilee therefore applies to all mankind and even all of creation; for,
“The Law is a shadow of good things to come.” (Hebrews 10:1)
The Law of Jubilee is speaking of something far greater than liberation from earthly slavery, it speaks of the liberation of our bondage to sin. Within the Law of Jubilee is the Law of the Kinsman Redeemer. Any one who was sold into slavery had the right to be redeemed before the Jubilee by a near Kinsman. Christ is our Kinsman Redeemer. He came in the flesh that He might be called our Kinsman (a.k.a – related to us in our humanity; see Hebrews 2:14-17; John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 John 7). And He paid the debt we owed and redeemed us (see Colossians 2:14, 1:14; Ephesians 1:7; 1Peter 1:18,19; 1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23; 2 Peter 2:1; Revelation 5:9, Acts 20:28, etc…).
We are all now His property. He just hasn’t come to collect on all of us yet…but He will. But even if He didn’t (which we know He will b/c He came to seek and to save the lost and He will not rest until He has found and rescued every last lost soul); but again, even if He didn’t in the law of the Jubilee it says,
“Even if he is not redeemed by [a kinsman redeemer], he shall still go out [free] in the year of jubilee, he and his sons with him.” (Leviticus 25:54)
The Law of Jubilee trumps all the Judgments of the Law. There is no way around it, which is why Scripture declares that,
“All creation will be set free from its slavery to corruption (sin and death) into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21)
The Law cannot override God’s Promise
Finally; the Law, as just and strict as it is, can never override God’s promises. This is a principle that is often overlooked. God’s promises came before the Law and therefore will always trump the Law. The Law came after the Promises and therefore cannot annul what God had previously promised. Even though the Old Covenant sounds like it came before the New Covenant, the New Covenant was actually prophesied and promised by God to Abraham (as well as Noah) before the Old Covenant was enacted. Paul explains this in his letter to the Galatians,
“The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘all the nations will be blessed in you.‘…What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.” (Galatians 3:8,17)
The covenant previously ratified by God with Abraham was the New Covenant in type and shadow. For the Old Covenant was dependent upon man’s ability to obey, thus it says, “if you will do…then I will do etc…” (Exodus 19:5-8) But the New Covenant only says of God, “I will do etc…” (see Hebrews 8:7-13). This is a massive topic indeed, one which we will look at in more detail in the next series, but suffice it for now to notice that where the Old covenant was dependent upon man, the New is dependent entirely (and I mean ENTIRELY) upon God. We just have to believe that He is going to do it all for us. 🙂
This is seen in His covenant with Abraham. For whenever two people made a covenant – a sacrifice would be made (slaughtered) and both would swear an oath saying, “may God do so to me and worse if I do not keep my end of the bargain.” This was how the Old Covenant was made, all the people swore to keep God’s Laws as their end of the bargain (Exodus 19:5-8), and if they failed, then they would be put to death. This is why the Law brings death b/c it is impossible for the Old Man to obey and keep God’s Law (see Romans 8:3).
But in God’s covenant with Abraham, God put Abraham to sleep and made the covenant one sided (as is the New Covenant). Abraham was prevented from taking part in the covenant. It was and is entirely dependent upon God’s ability to keep it. Man has nothing to do with it, its all on God and thus can be more accurately referred to as a promise. Man can and will ONLY be the beneficiary, whether he wants it or not. Thus as Paul mentioned in Galatians, God made a covenant with Abraham to “bless ALL the families of the earth.” (Genesis 12:3)
My whole point is that this is a promise of God, which the Law in its demand for justice and judgment and death cannot nullify. THEREFORE, even if the Law were merciless, which we have seen that it is NOT, it would still be unable to override the previous covenant and promises of God to bless all the families of the earth.
And in case you are wondering what exactly it means for all the families of the earth to be blessed, Scripture gives us an answer,
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, “cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” — in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13,14)
“God raised up His Servant (Jesus) and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways (iniquities).” (Acts 3:26)
The word “turn” means “repent” and this is how God is going to bless every one of us, by causing all of us to repent from our iniquities and be saved!
Praise God! The Gospel truly is Good News of Great Joy which will be for All People. (Luke 2:10)
The Law is Good. The Law has mercy built directly into it with the Law of the Jubilee which trumps all Judgment. Even still, the Law cannot trump the New Covenant/Gospel which was established beforehand. I am ever more and more convinced that all of Scripture confirms and bears witness of this beautiful truth – that God will save all mankind according to His promises.
In the next blog, we will see how all of Christ’s enemies will be put under His feet, a term of judgment, and that being put under His feet refers to being made into a holy dwelling place for His Spirit. A temple where God can find rest.