Mercy and Judgment
By Fred Pruitt
I have been (long time ago), and know of many now who seem to thrive on studying current events, looking for “signs of the times” and what they consider to be fulfilled Biblical prophecy. Among us we have always had people who said they were prophets in some capacity, who singled out various world figures or ongoing current events in countries, cities and towns, with whom they said God was displeased and toward which He would be sending some dire circumstances. Some sort of retributive catastrophe that God would cause to rain down on His “enemies” below. They are certainly prevalent in our day.
“How would God do it?” they are asked.
They may answer, “He’ll send an earthquake, or a big fire or hurricane. Volcanoes could erupt, towns could sink into the sea. Or a foreign power might attack and destroy them. All sorts of possibilities!”
“Why would God do it?” they are asked again.
“Because of the things they do, and the imaginations of their hearts, which are altogether evil,” they again answer. “God commands us to confront evil, to stand up against it and take it down wherever we may find it.”
Now, while I do believe there’s a thread of truth buried under these layers of false diversions, it began to dawn on me that this is no different from the Hindu idea of karma, at least as far as applying “karma” to one life only. And what I mean by that, is it is the law of tit for tat. Same as this description of God – always at the ready to settle the score and punish evildoers! As if He is in Heaven always poised and ready to go and destroy. “Where ARE those evildoers? Let me at ‘em!”
The truth is, God IS “after the evildoers!” Not to hunt down and kill them, but to bring them back into the fold, to overturn the sentence of death hanging over their heads, and raise them into His Glory! Just as it is a fact that we (all) were once those very same evildoers, and the Spirit pursued us, not to destroy us but to bring us into eternal Life, to be in conscious union with the Divine, so He continues to do today.
We first knew Him as the Savior God, Who rescued us from darkness and aloneness, and replaced them with His Light and Solace. He irradiated our whole interior landscape, so that our whole body is filled with His Light! (Matt 6:22). Though we may have been surrounded by multitudes, most of us know what it is to feel like we are “alone in the universe.” However, He brought us true fellowship, the most intimate fellowship there can be. He brings us into being “one” with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, along with an innumerable “cloud of witnesses” that eternally surrounds us, who are the “spirits of just men made perfect,” (Heb 12:22-24), begotten again in Christ by the “Father of spirits.” (Heb 12:9).
We come to know the Lover God, the Blesser God, the Giver God, and speaking Biblically, the “Liberal” God. (James 1:5; Prov 11:25, Deut 11:9-15; 2 Cor 9:15; All KJV). Likewise He is the long-suffering God, whose eternal Heart is to be the Life of our lives, the One Presence of God in multitudes, knit together as one across all boundaries of time and space, all living from Christ within. The God Who is Present even in harsh rain and adverse circumstances. For He has not sent His Son to destroy the world, but that through Him our personal Salvation and Deliverance is always at hand. Our God says, “Whosoever will let him come and partake of the water of Life freely!” (Rev 22:17).
Above I said this God we don’t know is always ready to “settle the score” with the evildoers. In that context, “settle the score” means pay them back in kind. What they did or were trying to do to you, do it back to them only harder. Does that sound like Christ?
But wait a minute! Let’s back up. Who are the evildoers? A New Testament definition would be everybody. Would that not be an accurate rendering of, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23). Christ was not sacrificed to save righteous people. Just unrighteous ones. Which was good for us because we were all unrighteous ones. We have ALL sinned. And we have known that we have sinned, whether we would admit it or not.
(Sometimes I wonder at the vehemence and ridicule I see from ‘Christian’ brothers and sisters toward those who have not yet come in. I think, “Don’t they remember their former lives, lives in all sorts of inner hells, in the days when they didn’t know Jesus?” I had plenty of people “witness” to me, “preach” to me, quote scripture to me, but what I finally responded to was none of that. I responded to being shown God’s love in a human being, not just in words, but in action, so that in a moment when we needed a miracle, one came. And I do not mean a “display of Divine Power defying the laws of physics.” It was instead a very human miracle, an act of pure love, when someone [a Christian stranger we had just met] gave us a ride to our destination in Colorado, simply because we needed one.)
The God we KNOW settled the score in the heart of the Eternal Presence, where the Lamb as it had been slain sits at the Right Hand of the Majesty on High. Therefore, from the Eternal (which in our limited capacity to understand we’ll call “timelessness” or “always now”), God’s forgiveness was available before we ever came forth in time, before there was a “sinner who sinned.” That has always been God’s “heart” toward us.
God has never held anything against us. We were the ones who fled from Him in guilt and fear, projecting our shame and fearful attitude onto the Deity Who created us and Who desired fellowship with us so intimate He made us one with Himself. We’re as the dust of the earth to the Lord. Nevertheless, He created us out of the dust of this world and the infusion into our spirits with His Spirit. Breathing into us the “breath of Life” (Spirit of God), we became living persons, shining out of the one Light that would enlighten every man and woman born in the world from then on.
“And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Gen 3:9,10).
Prior to that moment, there had been no shadows over their fellowship with the Lord God. But the moment they ate the fruit, their eyes were opened, just as the serpent had said. But darkness and suspicion entered their minds with the first bite, because it wasn’t just a piece of fruit from a “normal” tree that they consumed, but instead a hidden kingdom of darkness, hidden in what would seem like the necessary knowledge one would need to get along in this world, knowledge of what is good and what is evil.
Now it might seem God was a bit harsh with His zero-tolerance prohibition on eating from that particular tree. But we must realize, the “punishment” Adam and Eve received in being cast out of Paradise, was not something extra the Lord God thought up on the spot that seemed to Him to be appropriate “punishment” for their disobedience. The Father did not put them out because of what they did as punishment. They put themselves outside when they ate the fruit, because eating the fruit caused them immediately to be blind toward God and the Eden in which they had been freely living, filling them with fear and suspicion along with shame at what they had become. That’s why they hid from the One Who had always been their Delight and Joy until the fruit clouded their vision of “Pure Love Who is Nothing But Blessing, Joy and Peace,” and changed it in their minds into, “The One to Fear and Dread,” along with everyone and everything else.
God didn’t need to “administer” a punishment because the outcome of eating from the tree contained the “punishment” within itself, as well as the consequences. It was just as the Lord said and the enemy ridiculed. “Ye shall not surely die,” directly contradicting the Word of the Lord to Adam and Eve. They DID die. They died as unto God, lost their spiritual innocence, and became merely flesh-conscious people who no longer could gaze at the miraculous sights of Eden. Their being cast out of the Garden brought them more fully into the kingdom of darkness, of self-for-me, because the protective cover of the Spirit Who had kept them safe from all harm had now been withdrawn.
Why? Was what they did so bad that it earned these sufferings? Again, it wasn’t punishment for punishment’s sake. Instead it is about consequences, but consequences for education’s sake! A parent says to the child, “Don’t touch the stove, it’s hot!” We hope that’s all it takes. But the child gets excited one day and forgets what he has been told and accidentally puts his hand on a hot stove eye. What happens? He gets burned, hopefully not too badly. No one “punishes” the child because getting burnt by a hot stove is punishment enough, and probably much more effective than being “grounded” for a week in their room.
Once they partook of the Tree, their consciousness changed. Their inner selves were almost irrevocably soiled in the twinkling of an eye as the image of God within them darkened and the inner flame of the Life of the Almighty retreated to a hidden place.
They were no longer capable of Paradise. They could no longer breathe its air or see its sights. Every bit of that was destroyed in a moment in their consciousness when their minds, emotions and spirits were overwhelmed and overrun by the deluge of darkness that came flooding into their beings when they bit into the fruit. It was as if they had been air-breathers in one moment of time and you turn around to get something and turning back around, they had all been transformed into water-breathing creatures, swimming in a large aquarium.
That is how drastic and overwhelming a thing it is for us to experience the new birth, which is the same process in reverse – going from water-breathers to air-breathers! We actually change kingdoms, states of existence, spiritual realms, whatever you want to call it. Paul the always succinct one said, “[He] hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” (Col 1:13).
That is no figure of speech, but instead a proclamation of the Living Truth about our “state” in Christ. “I once was lost, but now am found.”
Let me get back to where we were. I do not believe in a reactive God, but rather the proactive God. I do not believe God is sitting way up in heaven keen on spotting any sort of wrongdoing He can, so He can put a stop to it and can punish the rule-breakers. He is not waiting to see what we will do, say or think and then react to that. Instead, whatever is going on today, prophesied or not, is the Father working “all things after the counsel of His own will.” (Eph 1:11). Always has been, always will be. God’s purposes are to raise up, rather than tear down. To give Life, and swallow up death with victory!
Every “act” of the Lord God is for the benefit of the saints in light, those who have seen and believed the Son. The harvest is still being gathered. There are fields yet to be turned. The prayer of Jesus still stands: “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the Harvest that He would send laborers into His Harvest.” (Lk 10:2).
What about the “prophets” and their doomsday prophecies? Will these things they are talking about really occur? Is God so mad at the world and the people in it that He is about to come down and destroy the world of men? That seems to be what many of these prophets are saying. God is mad at all of you because you are all sinners, and even right now today look out, you might get clobbered. He’s got His eye on You!
And He really seems to be back into “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
Consider this passage from the Sermon on the Mount:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt 5:38-45).
This famous “Sermon on the Mount,” in Matthew Chapters 5 – 7, is the first encounter with Jesus and His teaching in the Gospel of Matthew and in the New Testament. It amounts to a sort of manifesto of what He is about and is going to accomplish.
Though there seems to be a recent trend to see some of Jesus’ teachings as more Old Testament and legalistic than true New Covenant truth (isn’t that funny?), I don’t think that at all. From the beginning Jesus was clearly declaring Himself and His Word to be greater than Moses’ word; indeed, He was the fulfillment of it. Jesus brought a new and fresh revelation of Who God is, and what kind of God He is.
Considering the passage above, it starts with, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you …”
“But I say unto you …“ By this new Word from the Son Himself, He tears down the former structure that defined God and His character for the people of Israel. He is saying, “You used to see God like this – eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. But now there is a new vision and a new understanding of God. This God seems the complete opposite to the way we used to view Him.”
In the Old the Law is often about justice. You injured my eye, now your eye should be injured. The Law is inherently selfish, because in living in it, the focus is on us doing the law-keeping. That’s where an eye for an eye, etc., comes from. Jesus brings an entirely new concept, one the world seemingly wasn’t ready to hear in 30 AD, of not resisting evil. Of also giving someone your coat when they ask your cloak. Of going two miles to help someone even though they only asked that you go one. Giving to those who ask for help and looking for nothing in return.
But people react in wondering how can someone be that selfless? “That’s foolish, nobody does that!”
Oh, but they do!!! You can give away your whole farm to help someone and still be maintained and supplied. Those who learn that their provision is always from God, no matter what human stuff has to happen to bring it in, live in the “rest” of God, trusting Him implicitly even in the darkness in both faith and love. Everything we have, we have received from the Lord. And if we have asked Him for the fullness of His Spirit within us, we know (both because Jesus told us it was so and now living in Him we LOVE HIM), we know He will not give us a serpent! (Luke 11:11-13).
“All things come of Thee, O Lord, and of Thine own have we given Thee.” (1 Chron 29: 14b).
Just that one little phrase there, “But I say unto you,” says everything in that moment. It says, “All Who came before Me only testified about Me from afar,” foretelling the time of My visitation. But now I have come, and Moses must give way, because his time is now passed.”
And there the battle was joined. “Moses said ….. , but I say unto you!”
That’s where my focus has been the past 38 years in Christ, after the first years of “asking, seeking and knocking.” I am no “end-times scholar,” though I did expend a lot of energy looking into those things in my first seven years before the Lord revealed Himself as “One” with me. There are all sorts of conflicting eschatology theories being bandied about. I started out in the early 1970s with Hal Linden’s The Late Great Planet Earth. How many more theories of what Revelation means, or what Daniel means are there? There are new ones every day.
However, for me, the only thing I can and must do is to keep on telling people Who they are in Christ. This IS the best news yet, and I believe I am one among multitudes sent to speak it so that they might believe it. Because over and above anything we could do, I am certain this (knowing we are Christ formed in us) is the basic foundation of it all, whether we live consciously of it or not. Every believer walks in some degree of faith manifestation of that truth, regardless of knowledge. However, with knowledge (in and of the Spirit, not the flesh) we find our confidence, because the knowledge I am meaning isn’t rote words on paper, but, “that they might know Thee, the True God, and Jesus Christ Whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3). (Reminding us He is saying “know Thee” in the same context as “And Adam ‘knew’ Eve, his wife.”)
I know I’m being tediously repetitive sometimes, but we cannot emphasize certain things enough, because the assaults of “flesh-thinking” are continuous and are ALWAYS challenging to the Life of Christ in us. Scripture admonishes us to continually remind ourselves and others of the Life we all share.
It may be that a time is coming, that those of us whom the Lord God has trained and raised up all these years, waiting like Old Simeon in the Temple until one Day he saw and knew the Lord’s Christ in a little boy child, will be specifically needed for things about which we have no clue in the moment. Maybe this generation, maybe this day or the next.
No one knows except the Father.
Will America be judged? Will America suffer the built-up wrath of its own sins? Is a God-created catastrophe about to descend on my country?
I do not know.
Which means to me the same thing it meant a few minutes ago. The Lord is always on the Throne, and despite all these other things in the foreground, my gaze is on Him! From the beginning until now His Word in me continues to be His Word in me!
My word back to Him is to earnestly pray that we might continue to rescue our brothers and sisters we have yet to find or know about. I don’t believe that work is finished yet. There is yet faith and the righteousness of God in the world. It has not gone away, though many even in this time try to hijack God or Christ or Muhammad for the sake of their personal agendas. Nevertheless, God is at work anyway.
My mother told me one of my favorite Norman Grubb stories. She attended a “Faith at Work” weekend where he was one of the speakers. She had met him a while before that and was loving the light that was coming to her through Norman. However, the keynote speaker for the opening night of the conference seemed to emphasize a more psychological approach and less “Jesus” and the Spirit. So she was a little disturbed at that, and voiced her concern to Norman as she was walking him back to his hotel room.
“Norman, I’m unsure where he is going. He seems to attribute more to psychology than Christ. I’m worried Jesus is going to be left out.”
Norman answered, “Well, dear, let’s just watch and see what Jesus does.”
Mom would always finish the story by saying it was one of the best “Jesus and the Spirit” weekends she had spent in her life. Norman’s word to her, “Let’s watch what Jesus does,” truly bore fruit. (This was years before the WWJD move a while back. In that context, the emphasis isn’t really on Jesus doing anything except maybe being an example. The emphasis is on the person “imitating” what they thought “Jesus would do.” Interesting to me, is that both Norman’s Word and the WWJD movement’s word were the same four letters. Which would we rather, figure out and somehow “do” what “Jesus would do?” Or, sit in relaxation and peace in our spirit while we “watch what Jesus does?” After that the only thing left to do is to realize that we actually no longer need to “watch what Jesus does” from afar, from a separated viewpoint, because now we live every moment in an inner consciousness of “I and my Father are one.”
In one of my favorite stories from Genesis, suddenly three mysterious “men” come walking up out of the heat of the afternoon desert sun toward Abraham’s encampment. Instantly Abraham had an inkling about who they were.
(Gen 18:1) “And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts, after that ye shall pass on.” (I would encourage anyone to read this story again. It contains and expresses such incredible light!
After their meal they told Abraham that the Lord was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, if what had been reported to Him was true. That news immediately brought the spirit of intercession out in Abraham. He had been greatly concerned when Lot and his family had moved to Sodom, because he knew how wicked those cities had become. We, too, may find ourselves in the same position Abraham was in that situation. It was a picture of intercession, Abraham remembering Lot and family before the Lord and then praying God would not destroy the place if there were 10 righteous in the city, to which the Lord God agreed. (The story is recounted in Genesis Ch 18 & 19. The story of the “three men” is almost my favorite story in Genesis.)
Of course, that didn’t keep the judgment from falling, since there were not found even 10 righteous ones in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. We can question the validity of this story and its moral ramifications, trying to analyze it from the standpoint of human wisdom, or we can focus on the Deliverance God accomplished for those Who are His, which He also does today for all of us in this generation.
I don’t (and cannot) “limit” the Lord God as to what He does, did, or will do. I believe the “catastrophes” people experience in our world, are for the most part the “rain falling on the just and unjust alike.”
Part of living in this world is to be susceptible to things like that. We no longer measure things as they did in the Old Covenant, even though a lot of us don’t know it yet. Any “negative” thing we experienced under that code meant we thought we had offended God in some way, or we wouldn’t have had an illness or we wouldn’t have had a bad crop. The Old Testament was always about blessings or curses based upon obedience to the codes. It is supremely self-focused, because as the “law keeper” person focuses on “keeping the commandments” or “obeying the rules,” he is focused on the fact that he is the one doing it. To such a one everything everyday is about judgment – is this Christ or is this Satan? Both in judging the outer appearances as well as the thoughts, desires, emotions and actions of our own, trying to figure out among all that stuff which was actually Christ and which was Satan.
The New Testament has none of that! Jesus told Nicodemus, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18).
Catch that? He who believes is not judged! And he who does not believe has already been judged. There is only one judgment in the New Testament, depending on which side of that verse we land on. We are His because by His Grace we were filled with His faith to believe in the name of the only begotten Son.
The wonderful thing about that verse is that it still stands open. No gates have yet to be shut. The Way in continues to be The Way eternally – Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, Dead and Raised Again, now sitting at the Right Hand of the Father, and all of us cherished in His eternal bosom!
Let anyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who is hurt come.
Let anyone who desires to come, to come now.
Today is the Day of Salvation!