God’s warning signs

God never does anything without prior warning.  In various ways He reminds His people to live holy lives.  He warns of looming disaster, so that people can turn away from their wicked ways and escape His judgement.  Let us look at how the Ruler of the Universe gives ‘advance’ notice of what He is going to do.

#  God warned the Northern Kingdom.

  • The Northern Kingdom rejected God and served Baal and Asherah.  God called them back through prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea and Amos, but they refused to listen.
  • Then their enemies attacked them.  From 2 Kings 6:27-7:20 we read how the Arameans besieged the capital city, Samaria.  The situation was dire, but God promised relief.  It came through lepers (what a lesson to the faithless Israelites).
  • That Aramean siege was just a warning of eventual destruction.  The Israelites did not take heed, and In 722 BC Samaria fell to the Assyrians after a three year siege.

#  God warned the Southern Kingdom. 

  • The Southern Kingdom refused to listen to God.  All the warnings of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Micah and Zephaniah fell on deaf ears.
  • God used the Assyrian siege under Sennacherib to warn them.1   They called out to God for help.  He answered their prayers and destroyed 180,000 Assyrian soldiers with a plague.
  • Despite this ‘advance’ notice, the people of Judah refused to listen to God.  In 586 BC, after an 18 month siege, Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians.

#  Jesus warned of coming disaster.

  • Jesus warned about another destruction of Jerusalem. 2
  • It happened when the Romans destroyed the city in 70 AD.

#  What about the coming disaster in the book of Revelation? 

  • God always warns, but the peoples’ reactions in Revelation are almost the same as those of the Northern and Southern kingdoms:
    • ‘The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver bronze, stone and wood….  Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.’3
    • ‘They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify Him.’ 4
    • Yet God proclaims the Gospel right up to the end, ’Then I saw another angel flying in mid-air, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth….’

Conclusion

If we heed God’s ‘advance’ warnings in Scripture, we can escape His judgements.  Matthew 24:32-33 says, ‘Now learn this lesson from the fig tree:  As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.’  It is God’s desire that all people are saved from disaster.  That is why He gave us Scripture.  It tells us that it is of supreme importance to prepare for our eternal future.

References

  1. Isaiah 36-37
  2. Matthew 24:1-2
  3. Revelation 9:20-21
  4. Revelation 16:9
  5. Revelation 14:6

Why believe the Bible?

The history of the Southern Kingdom of Israel teaches us an important aspect of God’s character.  They had the Law with the blessings if they obeyed and the grave results if they broke the Law. 1  What does God teach us about His character in the exile of the Southern kingdom?

#  God’s covenant

God’s covenant included the Southern kingdom.  Because of sin, they rejected and neglected the Covenant.  Nothing would change their disastrous course,  ‘The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through His messengers again and again, because He had pity on His people and on His dwelling place.  But they mocked God’s messengers, despised His words and scoffed at HIs prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against His people and there was no remedy.  He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and spared neither young man nor young woman, old man or aged….’ 2

#  Was God unfair and cruel?

The written book of the Law was a constant reminder of the requirements of the Covenant.  Why didn’t God just pass over their rebellion, since they are His own people?  God couldn’t.  If He did, people would begin to doubt the truth of His word.  Eventually it would mean that God might decide to pass over His promise of eternal life.  If God could ‘forget’ one part of His promises, why not another part?

#  Can we trust Scripture? 

Yes, when God speaks (in Scripture) He acts,  ‘God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind.  Does He speak and then not act?  Does He promise and not fulfil?’ 3

Whenever God warned people to obey and they refused to change, God always acted.

#  God punishes, but His compassion doesn’t stop.

Doing what He promised is a victory for God’s righteousness, integrity and faithfulness.  Yet He never closes the door to those who are sorry for their rebellion and disobediences: ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’ 4

What is the lesson?

The historical examples in the Bible teach about God’s faithfulness.   When He speaks, He acts.  That is wonderful news, because it means our hope of eternal life is very secure: God will ‘deliver.’

References

  1. Leviticus 26:14-46 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68
  2. 2 Chronicles 36:15-17
  3. Numbers 23:19
  4. Lamentations 3:22-23
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