JUDGMENT is Good! (Last in the series)

Micah 6-7

Corruption, it seems, is alive and well.  We hear stories of bribery in other parts of the world all the time–India, China, and Russia, typically repeat offenders–but it’s not something we expect to find here in the United States,  We’re better than that, right?  I’d like to think so, but that doesn’t stop people from making stupid decisions,  When people make stupid decisions, and over a lifetime of 76 years, I’ve made plenty–they have to face the consequences.

Nowadays, that typically means a trial in a courtroom, but in Bible times it meant something more harsh, like maybe fire and brimstone?

Usually, yes; that is unless you count the time that God brought Israel to court for immorality in the Book of Micah.

Let’s look now at the last two chapters in Micah.

Micah 6:1-8

These 8 verses read like a courtroom drama:  “Law and Order: Jerusalem Crimes”.

THE SCENE IS SET –

I can just hear a lawyer yelling this now–“God is demanding that the people explain their actions.”

At this point, the Israelites were extremely corrupt.

A REVIEW OF MICAH –

Chapter 2:8-9  (NIV)

[8] Lately my people have risen up like an enemy.  You strip off the rich robe from those who pass by without care, like men returning from battle.

[9] You drive the women of my people from their pleasant homes.  You take away my blessing from their children forever.

Chapter 3, God calls out the leadership specifically:  verses 1-3

In chapter 7, God lists more specifics!  verses 2-3

[2] The faithful have been swept from the land; no one upright person remains.  Everyone lies in wait to shed blood; they hunt each other with nets.

[3]  Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire–they all conspire together.

So in Micah 6:1-8, the prosecution starts by asking the mountains and hills to listen.  They are the JURY!

[1]  “Hear now what the Lord says:  Arise, contend and plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.  [2] Hear, O mountains, the Lord’s controversy, and you strong and enduring foundations…”

The book of Luke in the Bible says that if we’re all silent the rock themselves will cry out in praise–so I don’t think it’s a reach that they could serve as a jury if asked by their Creator.

He then begins to list off what he has done, when it says in verse 5, God wants to make sure that the Israelites “know the righteous and saving acts of the Lord” (AMP).

What comes next is such a human action!  The people want to jump to the extreme!

They got from not listening to God’s Word at all to wanting to go overboard with burnt offerings, thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of olive oil and their first-born child (vs. 7)?

Really?  That’s a bit dramatic, don’t you think?  But this is how they thought!  They were like the criminal when, overcome with guilt, tells the cops to throw him in jail, and let him starve to death in a dark pit because he did something wrong.  And in my opinion, the Israelites deserved every one of those things.

They disrespected the creator of the universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  God would be well within His rights to simply point His finger and ZAP THEM with lightning bolts, or rain down fire and brimstone.

But He doesn’t.

In verse 8, God tells them what He wants:  That’s it!

Micah 6:8 (AMP)

“…to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God”

God doesn’t care about these huge outward displays of guilt.

He’s God!

He knows how you’re feeling, and whether your guilt is legit or not!

All He wants is for you to follow Him in all of His ways.  That’s the very definition of MERCY.

Going back to the courtroom for a moment…

This would be like the district attorney telling the judge, “We’ll drop all charges so long as the defendant comes back to us and does the right thing.”

What if in the military trials, with suspected terrorists, ended like that?  “Your honor, let this terrorist go free, so long as he promises not to do it again.”  That would never happen, right?

But God’s MERCY is so much greater than ours that we can’t really understand how far it really goes.

God promises that Israel will rise again!

That’s right–after all this, after the courtroom, the lawyers and the jury, God says, “It’s OK!  I’ll continue to bless you, and this is how.”

Micah 7:11-12 (NIV)

[11]  The day for building your walls will come, the day for extending your boundaries.

[12]  In that day people will come to you from Assyria and the cities of Egypt, even from Egypt to the Euphrates and from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.

So what does this mean for us today?  It means if you sin, if you do anything to disrespect God, to anger God, He doesn’t expect you to flip a little switch and become a SuperChristian to make up for it!

All God wants is for you to follow Him–the rest of it will take care of itself if you do that.

When you do sin–and let’s face it, it will happen–don’t wallow in self-pity and make absurd promises to God that you know you can’t keep.

Just be honest with God–admit you’ve sinned–and go back to following Him.

THAT’S ALL HE WANTS!

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CREDITS –

Credit:  Law and Order (1990-1991) Theme – Youtube video

Images/Photos:  Google Image Search – settings, advance search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV).

 

 

 

Do Sheep and Goats Make the Same Noise?

If the person listening had never heard a goat or a sheep before, they probably wouldn’t know the difference.  Also, different BREEDS of goat can sound very different.  Saanen (white dairy goat breed) goats sound similar to sheep except their voice is higher pitched–but Nubian goats sound very much like a crying human baby.  [See FOOTNOTE [i] ]

 This brings us to a passage in Matthew where the Shepherd (Jesus Christ) knows the difference between “sheep” and “goat” – Matthew 25:32 (AMP)

[32]  All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them [the people] from one another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats;  [See Ezek. 34:17]

Now before you start thinking to yourself of separating the goats from the sheep at your church on Sunday or in your neighborhood, this passage in Matthew has brought a debate to when all this takes place in time.  Some say it is at the beginning of the millennial reign while others say it’s at the end of the Millennium.  However, I believe the more important concept for us to grasp here, that there will come a time when King Jesus will separate people into two classes – SHEEP & GOATS.

OUR STUDY IN MATTHEW 25:31-46 is a conclusion to what is called the Olivet Discourse–where Jesus reveals the TRUTH of His second coming and the gathering of BELIEVERS and the JUDGMENT of the wicked and the LOST–non-believers.

Now for some reading this, the problem will be the SEPARATION–the righteous (those in Christ) and the judgment of the wicked (those who have rejected Christ).

THE REWARD for the SHEEP and the JUDGMENT for the GOATS –

To one group – JESUS says to enter in and enjoy your inheritance.

To the other group – Depart from me.

One is offered ETERNAL LIFE with God…

One group suffers ETERNAL LIFE without God.

The central truth to keep in mind is that when Christ returns (and He will return) to His glorious throne, there will be JUDGMENT based upon people’s response to Jesus.

THERE ARE SHEEP AND THERE ARE GOATS –

All of us came into the world as GOATS, born into SIN and far from God.  Some will allow God to TRANSFORM them and some will not because they like the way they are and by CHOICE stay far from God.

We read in Scripture that the Lord Jesus is JUDGE and SAVIOR.  He will allow each one of us to enjoy or endure the path we have FREELY chosen.  Now that’s worth reading again!

IMAGINE  the world where a GOAT, presented with an opportunity to be transformed miraculously into a SHEEP, could do so by grabbing the offer extended by the one making the offer.  SUPERNATURALLY the GOAT became instantaneously a baby SHEEP and cared for by the transformer (Jesus Christ, Savior, and King).  That happens by God’s GRACE and MERCY to all those that want and will let God TRANSFORM their lives.

That’s a God thing!

You cannot earn it.

You cannot buy it.

It is a FREE GIFT received only by acceptance!

When Jesus Returns with Angels All Around Him…SEPARATION BEGINS!

The SHEEP, those on His right, hold a position of honor.  Jesus says, starting with verse 34,  “The the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world…

BY CHOICE they have decided to follow Jesus.

BY CHOICE they have participated in kingdom work.

We cannot earn SALVATION, but it’s very clear here that the RIGHTEOUS (God’s SHEEP) took an interest in people they were around.

The early church in the Acts of the Apostles exploded because they were willing to open their hearts and lives to others.

I remember years ago while in attendance at a Church Growth Seminar in San Diego, one pastor said this about the growth: “Quality first, then quantity.”

JESUS made it very clear!

“their inheritance was there since the creation of the world” – verse 34 (b).

That would have been long before they could have established any good works.

GOOD WORKS is not the cause of SALVATION, but the Effect of Salvation.

As Christians, our responsibility, and yes, as believers we have responsibilities…is to be more like JESUS.

GOOD WORKS is the direct overflow of God active in our lives.  I love being in the “overflow” [John 10:10 Amplified Bible].

GOOD WORKS are only acceptable to God because of our RELATIONSHIP with Christ–NOT in place of Christ Jesus.

RELATIONSHIP is an interesting word to grab hold of.  One Greek word, pros ko Liao,  describes “to CLEAVE (join with) someone in a personal (“interfacing”) relationship. – “to glue in” (for extending towards).  [Bible Hub – Relationship].  

Reminds me of a song made popular by Sugar Land, “Stuck Like Glue” –

Now GOATS can indeed perform acts of kindness,

BUT…their HEARTS are far from God and not right with God.  Their ACTIONS do not honor Him.

BELIEVERS, after always keeping our RELATIONSHIP with Christ FIRST…we are called to be a part of KINGDOM WORK–we are “glued in”.

#1 – Seek and save the lost.

#2 – Build each other up.

#3 – Minister to one another.

We cannot do that in isolation.

EVERYTHING WE SAY AND DO MATTERS TO GOD!

  • Kind words to others matter to God.
  • Small tasks of kindness to others matter to God.

In our ‘doing’, we may not be acknowledged by the one we are showing kindness to, but to God, kindness matters and done often enough becomes a LIFESTYLE instead of occasional work.

Matthew 25:37:  “When did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink?”

Jesus replies,

Verse 40:  “Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me.”

Our response to others is an indication of where our RELATIONSHIP is with the LORD.  For some, there will be a great REWARD waiting and we won’t even realize it because it has become a HABIT and we can’t remember each act of kindness we do.

We will be asking Jesus, when did you see us do these things.  And He will remind us of each act of kindness to others.

What About The Other Group of People, THE GOATS?

THE GREAT SEPARATION –

The DAY OF JUDGMENT will come; the LORD will separate and say…

Matthew 25:41-44 (Message Bible)

41-43  “Then he will turn to the ‘goats’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats!  You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell.  And why?  Because–

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,

I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

I was homeless and you gave me no bed,

I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,

Sick and in  prison, and you never visited.’

44  “Then the ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about?  When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?

Those that had no time for God.

Those that have spent their whole life centered on themselves.

One day they’ll find themselves out of TIME–out of EXCUSES of why they have not responded to the things of God.

Many people today want to SERVE God in their own way. without restrictions, without discipline, without having any commitments. 

They want EXTERNAL REWARDS now, and INTERNAL REWARDS later and to base their rewards on good intentions and a RELATIONSHIP that’s almost non-existent.

Kingdom Rewards in Heaven is given to those who SERVE without thought of REWARD.  

God GIVES out of His GRACE!

OUR INHERITANCE…

Our INHERITANCE has been laid out since the creation of the world, based upon a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ, Lord, and Savior of our souls.

ETERNAL FIRE was prepared for the devil himself and the rebellious angels that followed him,  and also for those that REJECT the FREE GRACE of God, that REJECT what Jesus did on the Cross, and say no to Christ.

The RELIGIOUS LEADERS of the day knew 1000’s of Jewish pilgrims would come for PASSOVER and FEASTS.

They knew that many will admire Jesus from a distance, BUT… few will follow Him.

Those who REJECT Jesus will not follow Jesus.

Those who have no time for Jesus will not have time for God’s people.

“Depart from me”  (v. 41 – NIV Bible)

These will be terrible words to hear from Jesus.  You have no time for me and you show no compassion for those put in your path.

It’s like an employee who puts on a good show when their boss is present and slacks off the times he/she thinks they can get away with it.

GOD SEES ALL…

GOD KNOWS ALL.

It is while we have time that we must decide to be identified with the SHEEP.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like being called a SHEEP or a GOAT!

But I’d rather be a SHEEP and a follower of Jesus, than a stubborn GOAT that rebels at all authority and does things his own way.

Something I particularly noticed in this study is JESUS’ words:  Notice the SINS pointed out were not the things they DID, but rather the things they DIDN’T do (vs. 42-43).

He focuses on their SINS OF OMISSION; failing to act out of LOVE and COMPASSION for those in need.  And although GOATS may at certain times sound like SHEEP, even have certain characteristics of SHEEP, just like the sheep, the GOATS didn’t understand just like the SHEEP.  The GOATS are clueless to what King Jesus is talking about.

THE GOATS respond similarly as the way the SHEEP have.

Jesus responds in the same way as He did with the SHEEP–EXCEPT…the GOATS have not acted on behalf of “the least”  (v. 45).

This past week, I read about an instant CAKE MIX that was a big flop {brand in the photo is for reference only].  The instructions said all you have to do is add water and bake and you’ll have a cake.  The company couldn’t understand why it didn’t sell until their research discovered the buying public felt uneasy about a mix that only required water.  Apparently, people thought it was way TOO EASY.  So the company altered the formula, changed the directions to call for adding an egg to the mix in addition to the water.  

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The idea worked!

You know where I’m going here–some think the plan of SALVATION is too simple.  

Some people think that they have forever.

Some people think that God has no rules and anything flies.

“By Grace, you have been SAVED through FAITH, it is the GIFT of God, not of works”

And that is FACT!  You cannot add anything to the mix–that’s God’s recipe.

THE GOOD NEWS we proclaim is FREE from works, BUT WORKS will follow those that truly are FOLLOWING Jesus.  It has to do with our RELATIONSHIP–“Stuck Like Glue”–with Him.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i]:  Do Sheep and Goats Make the Same Noise?  Ask For Answers @ yahoo.com

Photos:   Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP). Message Bible (MESS).