Understanding the mercy in the judgments of God

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By Rick Ridings
Succat Hallel

At the beginning and end of the Gregorian calendar, there are always prophetic words coming out on the Internet and various places. In some prophecies, everything is gloom and doom. Then in others, everything’s going to be glorious and the Church is rising into her finest hour.

Sometimes I just look at it all and say, “LORD, what’s right in this?” I believe in one sense, God is saying, “All of the above.”

I hear the LORD saying, “If you will understand that the purpose of my judgments is to bring forth redemption, mercy and salvation in the earth, you will understand it is a great message of hope.”

In order to pray in line with God, we need to know God as He is. We need to pray in line with who God is and the way God works.

Moses, one of the greatest intercessors of all time, prayed, “Teach me your ways, O LORD, so that I may know you” (Exodus 33:13 NIV). We need to be praying the same.

God is who He is – absolutely, perfectly holy at the same that He’s absolutely perfectly merciful. God is not struggling within himself between being more merciful or more holy – He is the epitome of both.

Wheat and weeds maturing

We’re a facing a time when we’re going to see some of the greatest judgments, greatest shakings, and greatest shiftings that the world has ever seen. At the same time we’re going see God revealing Himself through His remnant – His people who love Him with their whole heart. We’re going to see the Church coming up into a place of the glory of God, the power of God, miracles, unity and impacting society.

At the same time we will have judgment of nations and transformation of nations.

Jesus described what is coming forth in Matthew 13:24-29. When the kingdom was growing, the enemy planted weeds, things that looked at first as if they were like the kingdom. Jesus said when they both come to maturity, it will be really clear. “This is wheat, and this is a weed,” and there will be no question. We need to thank God that there will be less and less room for compromise.

Balance in intercession

Storm clouds in the desert -- LeoCub on RGBStock.com
Photo by LeoCub on RGBStock.com
To the intercessor the LORD said there must be balance. He said in Jeremiah 1:9-10 (NIV): “I have put My words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

So we’re not just called to uproot. There is also the positive balance of planting. And we’re not just to plant, because if you only plant without uprooting the weeds, the weeds can choke the planting of the Kingdom of God.

Some think we’re going to bring in the Kingdom of God on our own, that the world is just going to get better and better. Honestly, that’s quite a naive view.

Then there are others who only see all the bad that’s happening in the world, and it’s almost like the Kingdom of God can have no influence until Jesus returns.

We ourselves will never bring in the fullness of the Kingdom of God. We need Jesus to come back. The balance is that the Kingdom of God can have a lot of influence on society before Jesus returns to complete the work. We can pray and be powerfully used of the LORD to affect areas of society, cities and nations. Yet, at the same time, we see the Scriptures speaking about the darkness that is coming upon the nations.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever

Someone shared with me recently that they were with a wonderful ministry that I love and respect, and they said they were shocked when they heard a leader there basically say that God is totally different than the God of the Old Testament and that He doesn’t judge anymore.”

I, too, was shocked when I heard this, but I realized there’s a subtle thing that can happen. The leader was overreacting to people who were only wanting to give prophesies of the judgments that were going to happen to that city, state and nation. So the leader developed a theology that God is different than He used to be. This is dangerous. It’s saying that God changes.

The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of New Testament. He never changes (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8).

Jesus Himself said, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 NIV). Jesus is saying that He is not different from the Father and that He did not reveal a new way. God hasn’t had a change of heart and is different now.

It’s very important as intercessors that we say, “LORD, help us to understand Your mercy and Your justice – Your holiness and Your compassion – and how all these things fit together, how You can be all these things at the same time.”

If we do, then we can come to say, “Good and righteous are your judgments” like the saints in Revelation 16:7 and 19:2 (NKJV).

What is judgment?

Judgment is the lifting of God’s wall of grace or hand of protection for a period of time because of a refusal to repent from sin.

It’s not so much “I’m going to send this horrible thing upon them.” It’s more like “I’m going to lift off my protection which is the norm for a short period of time, because in my grace and mercy, I know that over the long term they are going to destroy themselves if they don’t repent and change.”

In Isaiah 5:5-7, God talks about the judgment that he allowed to come upon Israel. He says to Israel, pictured as a vineyard, “I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled” (verse 5, NIV).

He doesn’t say He will trample on Israel. He says He will take down the wall of protection and allow Israel be trampled on by another nation so they will turn from the sin that would otherwise destroy them.

The judgments of God are redemptive

The judgments of God are redemptive, a form of discipline to keep us from destruction. We are told in Hebrews 12:4-11 not to make light of the LORD’s discipline because it shows we are His children.

Judgments are corrections by God for our good. God disciplined the proud Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4. If we don’t humble ourselves, God will humble us. Once humbled, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged God and had the blessing of a kingdom that recognized God as the ultimate king.

Judgments expose sin and teach righteousness

There are judgments that expose deception, unrighteousness and injustice to pull people into the truth.

“When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness,” says Isaiah 26:9 (NIV).

What do we do about Syria right now? What is the long-term purpose of God, in allowing His wall of protection to be lifted, resulting in war?

Isaiah 19, though it speaks of Egypt, lays down a pattern for how He will deal with nations.

The chapter ends with a promise of a confederation of worship in the Middle East. That’s an amazing promise. How does Egypt get there?

  • Internal strife – “I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian.” (Isaiah 19:2 NIV).
  • Great economic shakings – drought, famine, failing industry (Isaiah 19:5-10)
  • Oppression that pushes people to “cry out to the LORD” (Isaiah 19:4, 20 NIV)
  • “The LORD will strike Egypt with a plague; He will strike them and heal them” (Isaiah 19:22 NIV)

God’s heart for Egypt and all the nations of the earth is not civil war, famine, economic collapse and sickness. It is to “respond to their pleas and heal them.” (Isaiah 19:22 NIV)

Some say God doesn’t use such judgments in the New Testament.

In Acts 13:6-12, the sorcerer who tries to keep the leader of Cyprus from believing the Gospel is struck with blindness. That is a judgment. The leader believed in part because of the judgment on the sorcerer.

Judgments are opportunities to repent

God gives many warnings and opportunities to repent before sending a more severe judgment. The implied purpose of the Revelation judgments is to bring people to repentance (Revelation 9:20-21, 16:9).

Imagine someone driving very fast toward a cliff. If they keep going, they will fall off the cliff and die. Yet, there is one roadblock after another. Judgments are God’s roadblocks in His great mercy to stop people before they destroy themselves. The final roadblock is the most severe judgment that will hopefully wake them up and keep them from destruction (see Jeremiah 25:4-7).

In Psalm 83, the writer, Asaph, calls on God to defeat the nations of the Middle East as they come to destroy Israel.

Cover their faces with shame, LORD, so that they will seek Your name … Let them know that You, whose name is the LORD — that You alone are the Most High over all the earth. (emphasis added)

We, too, should desire that all the nations would seek to know God. That may involve praying that certain things be torn down, so that there can be a building up of the Kingdom of God in them. May we all pray, “Teach me Your ways, so that I may know You as You really are, and that I may pray according to Your unchangeable character.”

This article was first published by Reform Prayer Network and is published here with permission of the author.