Sin, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ The Stench of a Sweet Aroma

Originally published November 15, 2010

It seems like I’ve been cutting up a lot of onions lately. Fajitas. Chili. Homemade soups. People have been cooking with onions since the days of Israel’s captivity in Egypt, and probably even earlier than that. You’ve really got to wonder about the first person to pick up an onion, slice into it, be overwhelmed by noxious fumes, and say, “Oh yeah. We’ve got to put that thing in the stew. That’s just what it needs!”

But, lately, my walk with the Lord has been a lot like an onion. He keeps peeling back layer after layer of my heart. And the more he does that, the more my sin stinks. And the more I realize I stink, the more it stings me. And the more it stings me, the more I weep.

But God has promised that, when I give Him those sins, He will take them away and “cast [them] into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19), and the sting will be gone. Just like when I drop those onions into my pot of soup. No more tears, no more stink. I wash my hands thoroughly, and I’m clean (Psalm 51:2). It’s over.

Or is it?

Why did I cut up that onion in the first place? After all, I could have just left it sitting in the fridge. There wouldn’t have been any pain or tears.

But my soup would have been weak and lacking the robust flavor it could have had.

No good comes from an onion that’s been left in the refrigerator. It’s only when I cut up the onion and put it into the soup that anything good can come out of it. As it cooks, the onion’s awful fumes are transformed into a full and savory flavor that completes the taste of the soup.

And that’s why I keep coming back to God and asking Him to reveal my sin to me. It’s a painful and teary experience, but when He takes my sin, forgives me, and deals with me, only good can come of it. What “cooks out” of my sin might be a lesson learned, compassion for others strugging with the same sin, and the wisdom to help them, humility, or more dependence on God.

Dealing with my sin with the Lord makes me stronger in Him, and that’s mmm, mmm, good.

Faith, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Prayer, Sin, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Hamartiology Hits the Homefront

 Originally published March 1, 2013

hamartiology

I admit it. I struggle against sin. A lot of sin. Often.

Sometimes it’s a small, easily won skirmish. Sometimes it’s a hard fought, bloody battle. Yesterday, God helped me take a hill.

For a couple of weeks, I’d been feeding on this sort of casserole of worry, doubt, fear, unbelief, distrust, and frustration with the Lord. I needed Him to act, and He wasn’t acting. Every time I tried to pray about the issues that were tempting me into this mélange of anxiety, I ended up feeling even more anxious.

So I quit praying about it. Smart and spiritually mature, huh?

“Lord, You know what all these issues are. Please, just handle it.”

From time to time, it can be helpful to pray like that. But not when you’re using it as a semi-spiritual cover for avoidance, which is what I was doing.

Yesterday, I finally heard the bugle sound the call to arms. I felt God pushing me toward the battle line. The urgency to pray through this mess was absolutely compelling.

So I laid it all out before God. Every last bit of it.

And as I did, conviction of sin rolled in.

Sometimes we think of conviction as a negative thing. It makes us feel bad. Guilty. Humiliated.

But conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit is really a good thing for the Christian. It gives us pinpoint accuracy and clarity on exactly how we’re offending God. It gets everything out in the open and brings things to a head so that we can repent, be made right with Him, and start fresh. None of us is so weak that we can’t deal with a little guilt if it pushes us up and over the wall of repentance to reconciliation. Buck up, soldier.

As I continued to pray, God began bringing all manner of applicable Scripture to my mind (this is how God speaks to us—through His written word). I remembered how God dealt with the ungrateful, complaining Israelites in the wilderness. I also remembered what David said in Psalm 103:

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,

I realized my sin was a double edged sword of commission and omission. It wasn’t just what I was doing—doubting and worrying—it was also what I wasn’t doing—being thankful and remembering how God had been faithful to me in the past.

convection_weather2It reminded me of the way wind is formed. Warm air rises into the atmosphere, and cold air rushes in to fill the void left by the warm air. Voids don’t last long in our spiritual lives. Something is always rushing in to fill them.

At the end of a long day of fighting, my doubt, fear, unbelief, worry, distrust, and frustration lay on the battlefield as bloody casualties, replaced by fresh, mighty warriors of faith, gratitude, love, and remembrance.

Sin. It’s the only battle you can win by surrendering.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from
everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Psalm 103

Forgiveness, New Testament, Sin, Sunday School

Sin-opsis ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 10-26-14

Sinopsis

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 43 ~ Oct. 19-25
Matthew 15-18, Mark 7-9, Luke 9:18-11:54, John 7-10
Sin-opsis

Sin. That word can cause us to think of a lot of different things, from our sin, to people who have sinned against us, to forgiveness. Today, we’re going to hear what Jesus has to say about five different aspects of sin.

Matthew 18

Causing Another Believer to Sin (1-5, Matthew 20:20-24)
Have you ever noticed that the disciples asked a lot of interesting questions? Why do you think they wanted to know who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Pride? A desire for clout or recognition? The disciples and Jesus lived in a society in which people were acutely aware of who had rank, recognition, and power (the Pharisees, scribes, Saducees, lawyers, priests, and Levites), and who did not (everybody else, including Jesus and them), when it came to the way Judaism was structured. We talked last week about what people, even the disciples, expected the Messiah to be: a conquering king who would overthrow Rome and restore Israel to prominence and prosperity. Here, as in the case of Mrs. Sons of Thunder asking if her boys could sit on either side of Jesus’ throne (Matt. 20), they were likely thinking of their offices in the new government they imagined Jesus would head up once He reestablished the kingdom.

Once again, Jesus had to set them straight. “It’s not about how high on the power ladder you can climb, Boys. It’s about how humble you can be, as humble as a little child.” And why did Jesus have to set them straight? Because they had been, skandalizo, “entrapped” or “tripped up” as verse 6 puts it, by faulty teaching from those who were responsible to rightly handle God’s word. The disciples would soon be in the position of teacher and preacher themselves. It was imperative they had a correct understanding of God’s word and God’s ways so they could accurately teach the new “little children” coming into the church.

When we share the gospel with others, teach the Bible, offer others advice or counsel, etc., we must make absolutely certain we have a correct understanding of what God’s word says. Otherwise, we might be tripping others up by leading them to believe things that are in conflict with the Bible. Jesus takes that very seriously saying (7) “it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Pretty strong words.

Recreation of a millstone used for pressing olives in Nazareth, Israel.
Recreation of a millstone used for pressing olives in Nazareth, Israel.

When I Am Tempted (7-9)
What about when someone else tempts me to sin? Again, Jesus has strong words for anyone who entices someone into any kind of sin: “woe.” What are some ways we can cause people to sin or be drawn into someone else’s sin, even in the church? Gossip, adultery, inciting other church members against the pastor or other leaders, playing “politics”, etc.

But whether tempted by a church member or the world, Jesus paints a serious picture of how we should respond to that temptation. Now, Jesus isn’t suggesting we literally maim ourselves, because, if you think about it, even a blind person can lust. Sin is an issue of the heart. Jesus is saying that we are to get away from temptation to guard our hearts, whatever the cost. Your relationship with Christ is worth it.

What might “gouging your eye out” or “cutting your hand off” look like for someone facing a certain temptation? For a person tempted to drunkenness, it might mean not drinking at all or not going to certain social events where they know the booze will be flowing freely. A person tempted to lust and adultery might need to make certain she is never alone with a man she’s not married to. She may even have to avoid spending any time with certain men she’s attracted to. Sin is serious, and we sometimes have to take big, inconvenient steps to stay out of it, but our relationship with Christ is completely worth it.

When Another Christian Sins (10-14, Romans 8:1)
Our brothers and sisters in Christ are going to sin. There’s just no way around it. How should we respond to a fellow Christian who has wandered off into sin? Ignore it and hope she’ll stop? Stop speaking to to her? Castigate her? No. We are to respond to her the same way Jesus does with the lost sheep:

10– We are not to treat any of our brothers or sisters unkindly; we are to treat all with kindness and love.

12– We remember that Christ came to save the lost from their sin. Of course, He does not want those He has saved to wander off back into their sin. Jesus goes after the wandering sheep to bring it back into the safety of the fold. We are to do the same. If someone wanders off, we don’t just let her go. We go after her in love and concern to bring her back to where she needs to be.

13-14– “If he finds it…” If is kind of an interesting word to use here, since Jesus is the shepherd in the story. Will there ever be a case in which Jesus can’t find someone who has wandered off? No. God is sovereign over all things. He knows where we are, what we’re doing, and the state of our hearts at all times. These verses are referring to the lost sheep who is willing to be found and return to the fold with Jesus. When a Christian repents and returns to Christ, Christ rejoices over her. While there may be consequences of the sin to face, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom.) Isn’t that awesome? When that repentant sheep comes back to the fold, we are to have the same loving, embracing, and forgiving attitude towards her that Christ has. Christ’s desire is always restoration and reconciliation, and that should be our desire as well.

When Another Christian Sins Against Me (15-20)
One of the most important things we can focus on in this passage is the word “sins”. In the church body, there are going to be times when things happen to us that we don’t like. That doesn’t necessarily mean these things are SIN. Maybe we don’t like the style of music, or a particular mannerism of the pastor. Maybe somebody tells us a truth we need to hear that stings a little, or someone is annoying or inadvertently hurts our feelings. Our feelings don’t determine what sin is, the Bible does. When deciding whether to confront the person, we first need to determine if what she did is sin according to the Bible (not according to our opinion), or if it’s a non-sinful offense, and we can overlook it and extend grace, realizing that people have probably done the same for us on many occasions.

On the other hand, if the person IS sinning, we can’t shy away from an awkward conversation with her about it. Remember the wandering sheep? We need to have the same love for that wandering brother or sister and try to restore and reconcile him/her. First, we go to the person privately -not in front of a group, not on Facebook- one on one, and, remembering the way we would want someone to approach us, kindly and lovingly, yet firmly, talk to her about her sin. If she repents and returns, let the rejoicing and forgiving commence! If she persists, we take a couple of other Believers with us to kindly, lovingly, and firmly approach her again. If she still persists in her sin, the next appropriate and required step is to take the matter before the church body for disciplinary action. If the person still refuses to repent, we are to treat her as “a Gentile and a tax collector.”

What does that mean? Are we supposed to shun her? Hate her? No. Look how Jesus treated Gentiles and tax collectors (like Matthew and Zacchaeus). He loved them, shared the gospel with them, and called them to repent and believe in Him. In other words, He treated them like the unbelievers they were. People who persist in unrepentant sin show us that they are not Believers. When we have exhausted all attempts at restoration, we agree with their behavior that they are not Believers and treat them that way. We remove their names from church membership and remove them from any positions of leadership or responsibility in the church, but we keep loving them, keep sharing the gospel with them, and keep praying for their salvation.

Why We Forgive (21-35, Ephesians 4:32)
This parable can be summed up in the words of Ephesians 4:32:

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Who is the king in this parable? Jesus. Who is the first servant? Me. How big is our sin debt to Jesus? Verse 24 describes it as ten thousand talents. One talent was a unit of money equal to twenty years’ wages for a laborer. Therefore, ten thousand talents would have equaled 200,000 years’ worth of wages, an impossible amount to even begin to repay, just like our sin debt. But when we throw ourselves on the mercy of Christ and repent, He forgives us that enormous debt. Just wipes it right out. Any sin that anyone can commit against us, no matter how egregious, is peanuts (verse 28 calls it 100 denarii, or 100 days’ wages) compared to the grief and agony we put Christ through on the cross. How can we, knowing how hugely we have sinned against Christ, refuse to forgive others anything they might do to us?

The “Sin-Opsis”
There’s an old Carman song that contains the line

“Black is black, and white is white.
And Hell is hot, and sin ain’t right.”

It’s a pretty good “sin-opsis” of the what sin is. It is Christ’s desire that we stay out of sin ourselves, not lead others into sin, rescue others who have fallen into sin, and forgive those who have sinned against us.

Christian women, Idolatry, Old Testament, Sunday School

Idolatry: No Turning Back ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 8-24-14

idolatry

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 34 ~ Aug. 17-23
Jeremiah 35-50, Psalm 74, 79, 2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chronicles 36, Habakkuk
Idolatry: No Turning Back

Background:
Israel is gone, carried off into captivity by Assyria. Judah has managed to hang on a little longer, due in part to Hezekiah’s and Josiah’s godliness, but, now, Nebuchadnezzar has beseiged and overthrown the last of Judah’s fortified cities, slaughtered the king and the nobles, and carried nearly all the citizens off to a 70 year exile in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar left a small remnant of the poorest of the poor to continue living in Judah to work the land, and set up Gedaliah as governor over them. Gedaliah was subsequently assasinated by the Ammonites, and the remnant decided -against God’s clear instruction through Jeremiah- to go to Egypt, and to force Jeremiah to go with them. This is where we now find them in chapter 44.

Jeremiah 44

God takes sin seriously.
As usual, Israel’s (here, Judah’s) main sin was idolatry, a clear violation of the first and second Commandments. That’s not something God just sweeps under the rug as an “oopsie”. In verse 3, He calls it evil. Verse 4, “this abomination that I hate.” In verse 6, God reminds them of His wrath and anger poured out becaue of idolatry. And think back over the scope of Israel’s history: the plagues, the pestilence, the snakes, the natural disasters, being conquered by enemies, and so on.

The vehemence with which God responds to idolatry shows us that He doesn’t take it, or any other sin, lightly. If there’s one major takeaway from the Old Testament, it’s that sin has a price tag, and somebody’s got to pay it.

Why does God respond so harshly to sin?  (1 John 4:8)
1. Because God is love (1 John). When we read that the penalty for sin is an eternity in Hell, we really have no idea what we’re talking about. We know Hell is bad, but that’s about the extent of it. God can see Hell. He knows precisely what it’s like, and He loves us so much that He doesn’t want a single person to go there. So much, in fact, that He was willing to go to the farthest extreme of sending His Son to provide us the way out of Hell and into Heaven.

2. Believers are God’s walking billboard to the world. When we share the gospel and walk in godliness, we can attract people to a saving relationship with Christ. But when we sin unrepentantly, and/or in what the world would consider to be a “big” way (adultery, embezzlement, drunkenness, etc.) we can turn people off to God. God wants to prevent us from doing that because He loves and wants to save those people just as much as he loves and wanted to save us.

3. Sin hurts people in the here and now. God doesn’t like that. He doesn’t want us to be victimized by other people’s sin and He doesn’t want us to hurt other people.

God pursues His people relentlessly, but not endlessly. (Romans 1:18-32, 2 Corinthians 6:2)
Take a look at verses 4-5:

“Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!’ But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their evil and make no offerings to other gods.”

Again, think back over all the ways and times God has tried to bring His people back to Himself. Hundreds of years, dozens of prophets, painful circumstances. Time after time as Israel rebelled against Him, God mercifully and patiently offered them opportunities to turn back to Him. He didn’t throw them away or give up on them. And here, even though He is about to destroy this remnant, it is not God who has thrown in the towel. It is the people who have relentlessly demanded His wrath. God could not have been more clear to His people in this chapter about what would happen to them if they continued to rebel, and still they said, “we will not listen to you, but we will do everything we have vowed” (16-17). So he gave them what they wanted- the freedom to reject Him forever.

God is the same way today. He pursues people relentlessly, but not endlessly. Romans 1 makes this clear. Three times in this passage, he says, “God gave them up…” culminating in verse 28:

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”

This is why there is such a danger in people putting off salvation, thinking they can get around to it on their death bed. If people reject God long enough, He will eventually give them what they want and stop pursuing them. The Bible says (2 Cor.) today is the day of salvation.

The goal of God’s pursuit and discipline is restoration. (Jeremiah 42:9-12, 2 Corinthians 5:20)
Even here at the end of God’s patience, God’s desire is still to restore His people to a right relationship with Him. Just two chapters ago, He told the people that if they would only obey Him and stay in Judah instead of going to Egypt, He would have mercy on them. The same loving Lord who says in 2 Corinthians, “be reconciled to God,” has always desired that His people walk in right relationship with Him, and He uses whatever means and measures He has to in order to turn His people back to Himself.

Women have the power to influence our families, communities, and nation for evil or for godliness. (1 Peter 3:1-2) 
The worship of “the queen of Heaven” (Ishtar, an Assyrian/Babylonian goddess, the wife of Baal or Molech) started with the women of Judah (15,19). They then influenced their husbands to participate in, or at least approve of, this idolatry. The women, and the husbands they had corrupted, stood in Jeremiah’s face and said, “We will not listen to you. We will keep on with our idolatry.”

Why? Because the women had the false notion that the reason they lately “lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine” (18) was becase they had stopped sacrificing to her. (Of course, the truth was that they were experiencing these things at the hand of God because they had been sacrificing to her.(23))

Several months ago, when we studied biblical womanhood, we discussed the line from My Big, Fat Greek Wedding where the mother tells her daughter, “The man may be the head, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn him any way she wants.” First Peter puts it this way:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

Every day, we have opportunities to be like the women of Judah and turn our families and our communities away from Christ and towards idolatry. Let’s not be like those women, but, instead, women who, by our godly character, our respectful and pure conduct, and our submission to our husbands, turn the world upside down for Christ.

Idolatry, Old Testament, Sunday School, Worship

Israel Is Exiled ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 7-20-14

PicsArt_1405907394797

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 29 ~ July 13-19
2 Chronicles 27-31, Isaiah 9-27, Micah, 2 Kings 16-18:8, Psalm 48
Israel is Exiled

2 Kings 17:1-20
Second Kings 17 is sort of the “Cliff Notes” version of Israel’s era of the kings. We have read about each king of Israel, all of whom “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” Second Kings 17 sums up the effect these evil kings had on Israel’s relationship with God and the consequences for their idolatry.

Israel’s Sin
The sin that brought God’s judgment upon Israel was idolatry. Israel participated in idolatry in two different ways, usually at the same time:

They worshiped false gods instead of the true God. (12,16-17)
As Israel got to know her pagan neighbors, she began to worship some of their false gods such as Ashera, Baal, Molech, and the stars and planets. This was expressly forbidden by God in the 10 Commandments and throughout the Old Testament. While other nations often worshiped many gods, Israel was to be holy and set apart to the one true God and serve only Him.

They worshiped the true God in false ways. (16, 1 Corinthians 14:40, 2 Corinthians 9:7, 1 Corinthians 5, 1 Timothy 2:12-14, 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, 1 Corinthians 11:17-33)
You will recall the two golden calves Jeroboam had set up in the north and south for the people to worship. He wanted to keep the Israelites from traveling out of Israel into Judah to worship at the temple because he did not want the people to turn their loyalty back to the throne of David. So he took the worship and festivals God had set up for Himself and transferred them to these two calves. The calves were basically a stand in for God.

God was very specific about how, when, and where He was to be worshiped. When we studied Exodus and Leviticus, we saw hundreds of instructions about God’s house, the utensils, the men who served as priests and Levites, the offerings and sacrifices, cleansing rituals, and on and on. God requires that He be worshiped in certain ways. His ways. He did not leave it up to His people to worship Him freestyle.

Even today, God has given us specific instructions about worship that we are to obey. For example, He tells us that, in the church, all things are to be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14), that we are to give our offerings cheerfully and not reluctantly or under compulsion (2 Cor. 9), that we are to discipline, not tolerate, unrepentant sin in the church (1 Cor. 5), that women are not to instruct or hold authority over men in the church (1 Tim. 2), the qualifications for pastors and elders (1 Tim. 3, Tit. 1), instructions about the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11), and so many more things. Although God has given us freedom in some areas of worship, as long as they do not violate any specific instructions He has given us (music style, order of service, what we wear to church, etc.), He has not turned us loose to worship Him in any way we please. We must be careful not to do this as the Israelites did.

God’s Patience (1 Peter 3:20, 2 Timothy 4:1, 2 Peter 3:9, Romans 2:4, 2 Corinthians 6:2)
After Solomon died, Israel and Judah split into two separate kingdoms. In the 209 years between Solomon and the exile (931-722 B.C.), Israel had twenty kings, all of whom participated in and promoted idol worship among the people of Israel. During that time period, God sent at least seven prophets (Ahijah, Jehu, Elijah, Micaiah, Elisha, Amos, and Hosea) to warn Israel to turn back from her idolatry and the consequences if she would not. Two hundred and nine years. That’s a lot of chances God gave His people to repent and turn back to Him.

God has a track record of patience. First Peter 3:20 tells us “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared.” God stayed His hand of judgment for 120 years while Noah was building the ark, preaching repentance with every swing of the hammer. In His mercy, God was giving the people of Noah’s day a chance to repent and turn to Him before the flood, but none did, except Noah’s family.

In the same way, God has been patient with mankind for the last 2000+ years since He provided the way of salvation for us through Jesus.

Second Timothy 4:1 tells us that Christ will return to judge the living and the dead, but what’s taking Him so long?

Second Peter 3:9 says: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

He wants everyone to turn to Him in repentance, but we are not to take advantage of His patience and continue in sin. Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”

“For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2). In the same way that Israel should have repented immediately because they didn’t know how long God’s patience with them would last, we must turn to Him now instead of later because we do not know when He is coming back. And once He does, it will be too late for those who have not put their trust in Christ.

God’s Judgment (18-20)
God’s time of patience with the ungodly always comes to an end. It happened with Noah, and here we see it happening with Israel. God’s judgment fell upon Israel. He allowed them to be torn apart by enemy nations, and, finally, exiled from the Promised Land to Assyria. Judah held out for a while with a few good kings, but eventually, she followed in Israel’s footsteps and was exiled to Babylon in 605 B.C.

But even in exile, there were those few faithful Israelites and Judahites whom God saved: Daniel, Nehemiah, Esther, Ezra, and many others whose names we don’t know. Today, despite persecution and rampant sin in the visible church, God is still preserving a remnant of Christians who are faithful, whom He will preserve when He brings the final judgment upon the earth. Until that time, the words of Jesus are just as relevant today as when He said them 2000 years ago:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15