Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Judging the Nations

Rise up, God, judge the earth,
For all the nations belong to You.
(Psalm 82:8 HCSB)
The judgment of God comes, not to condemn, but to set things right, to line everything up with His will and purpose. God is good, so His purpose is nothing but good. That is why Jesus came, why the Son of God became flesh and dwelt among us.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. (John 3:17-21)
In Psalm 82, God calls the rulers of the nations, especially Israel, to account. “He judges among the gods” (v. 1). They are called “gods” because He intended for them to represent His justice on earth. But instead of defending the poor and fatherless, and doing justice for the afflicted and needy, freeing them from the hand of the wicked, these faithless rulers judged unjustly and show partiality to the wicked (vv. 2-4).

God chastises them: “They do not know, nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness. All the foundations of the earth are unstable” (v. 5). They love the darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. They have no understanding because they are not interested in truth. And the world is unstable because of it. So God delivers His verdict:
I said, “You are all gods,
And all of you are children of the Most High.
But you shall die like men,
And fall like one of the princes. (vv. 6-7)
Then comes the call for God to rise up and judge the earth — to set things right all over the world — because all the nations, not just Israel, belong to Him.

The prayer for God to rise up and judge the earth is not a call for destruction and death but for redemption and life, to rescue the nations. God answers this call in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life of God for all the earth (John 14:6). God’s desire is to rescue the world, not condemn it. Condemnation is a condition of unbelief. When we do not believe God, when we do not love what is light and good and true, we condemn ourselves to darkness, evil and deception. The judgment of God does not come to condemn but to expose our true condition. If we are willing to do the truth and come to the light — to receive the Son — the judgment of God rescues and restores us.