Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mercy or Wrath

When the people of a city or nation cast off restraint and reject God, they lose their spiritual protection and leave the powers of evil unrestrained. They have the authority to bring judgment against the city or nation, but they often wait until sin is filled up so they can do more evil. The powers of evil execute judgment in a way that causes the most harm and pain, because they love to rob, destroy and kill.

God will sometimes pre-empt this judgment so that less harm is done, and to ensure that his purposes are accomplished. Because the people have turned away from him, he does not have authority to bless them, but the does have the right to send judgment.

By getting his angels to bring the judgment, rather than waiting for the powers of evil to deliver it, he can turn it for good, and use it to achieve his purposes. The holy angels hate executing judgment, because they love to do good. They will only do it, if they have a clear prophetic word from God’s prophets explaining how it will bring glory to God.

God’s people sometimes need to choose. Will they wait for the power of evil to execute their plans, or should they ask God to bring a pre-emptive judgment that is more merciful.

An example is the judgment after David counted his fighting men (2 Sam 24). When he realised he had done wrong, the prophet Gad came to him with three options:

  • Three years of famine in the land.
  • Three months of running before his enemies while they pursued with the sword.
  • Three days of plague.
David chose the third option. This was a bit selfish, because he was the one who had sinned, but the people would suffer most. This is a reminder that when the leaders of a nation sin, it is their people who suffer most.

When the judgment started, David realised that he had been selfish and cried out,

I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family (2 Sam 24:17).
But it was too late, because the decision had been made.

Nevertheless, David had made the right decision, perhaps for the wrong reason. He explained the reason to the prophet when he made his decisions. He said to Gad,

I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man (2 Sam 24:14).
There were really only two options. One option was to come under judgment executed by God. The other option was to fall into the hands of man, literally the hands of Adam. David did not fully understand this, but Adam had lost his authority when he sinned, so falling into the hands of Adam literally meant falling into the hands of the powers of evil.

Two of the three judgments, would be executed by the powers of evil. The famine and defeating war were their plans for Israel once David’s sin had given them the right to do it. (The powers of evil are often divided and disagree over what they want to do. If David had chosen the plan of one group, the Holy Spirit would have rested the other group, so they would not be able to fulfil their plans.)

Even though David did not realise that he was avoiding falling into the hands of the power of evil, he did realise that it was best to choose the judgment that would be executed by God. God opened David’s spiritual eyes and he saw the angel of God with the sword of death outstretched. This was terrible, but it was better than would have happened if the powers of evil had been able to execute evil for three years or three months. Three days was merciful by comparison, and when David repented of his selfishness, God cut it short to less than a day.

When a nation hardens its heart, the power of evil get authority to work their plan in it. The Holy Spirit often shows a prophet what the powers of evil have planned. The prophet must be careful not to prophesy these plans, except as a warning (if you keep doing this, that will happen), because it increases the authority of the powers of evil to do their stuff. Sometimes, the prophets may see several forms of evil, that different factions of the power of evil would like to do (they are seldom united).

The prophets in this situation should ask God if there is a pre-emptive judgment that he can bring that would be better for the nation than what the Holy Spirit has shown them the powers of evil intend to do. It will often not be nice, but it will usually be better than falling into the hands of the powers of evil. The prophets may need to pray for a lesser more merciful evil, so that God has authority to execute it.

David, and through him Gad, had authority in Israel. When Gad prayed and told God their choice, it gave God authority to send his angel to release the plague. It was a terrible plague, but at least it was a good angel bringing it. This was better than releasing evil angels to do their thing.

In the same way, prophets may sometime have to make a similar choice. They might need to choose to give God authority to bring a pre-emptive judgment. That will be hard to do, but it is usually better than waiting for worse evil to come from the hands of the power of evil.

Gad had a relationship with David, so he was able to consult with him. Many prophets will not have a link to the political powers, so they will not be able to consult. They will have to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and make the decision for their nation.

Many prophets have seen terrible things happening to their nation. They should check before prophesying them, to make sure that God has not shown them what the powers of evil want to do, because their vision might be what will happen if the nation is left to its own devices, but it might not be what God wants to do. The prophets should acknowledge that judgment is inevitable for the nation, but recognise that there is a milder judgement that God could bring, if he were given permission to act in the nation.

Some prophetic people have bitter stomachs, often through frustration and rejection. If they are not careful, they can become hard, and slip into enjoying and prophesying what the enemy plans to do. They have the wrong half of the truth. True prophets make sure they understand God’s purpose, before they prophecy judgment.

In New Zealand, prophetic people have warned of a tsunami that destroys Christchurch, an earthquake that destroys Wellington, and a volcano that destroys Auckland. I suspect that these people have heard what the powers of evil would like to do, if sins are filled up and they get authority in the land. But these events are not God’s intent for the nation.

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