Thinking that we can live our lives our way and then make things right with God near the end is inviting disaster.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.
We continue looking at the book of Matthew from a Jewish perspective. Jesus was dealing with unforgiveness and breach of fellowship among the family; He then turned the conversation from horizontal to vertical.
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” Matthew 5:25-26
The statement assumes the guilt of the person with the adversary. Jesus is referring to Himself as the adversary and the Jewish people, particularly the Jewish leaders, as the guilty person. There will come a time when it will be too late to repent. We know that the time to which He is referring is the destruction of Jerusalem (and much of Israel) in 70 A.D.
Let’s talk about judgement. First of all, we will see it spelled two ways, “Judgment” and “Judgement.” There is no difference in meaning, so we won’t worry about it. Secondly, we tend to think of a judge or a ruler who decides to pass judgement upon people, many times randomly or capriciously. This is not the case with the heavenly Father. “Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar” Romans 3:4. God always judges rightly. But there is more to it than just passing reasonable judgement. Thirdly, God’s judgement is both passive and active. It is passive in that He decided (passed judgement) in Genesis 2:17 that He would let mankind suffer the consequences of their own sin based upon their own decisions.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die [spiritually and later physically].”
It is not God’s nature to mete out wrath. He is a good and gracious God. His desire is that all mankind come to repentance and faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9). Even so, there is an active side to His judgement. He uses natural occurrences and people to carry out judgement. He used the Assyrians and the Babylonians as His tools to judge Israel. From a human aspect, if God had not told us that He was doing it, we would have assumed that everything occurred naturally. Concerning Israel and the Assyrians, Israel called upon the Assyrians to help them in a battle. The Assyrians got a taste for the good things in Israel and soon came to invade Israel and take all the plunder. Israel did not repent, and the Assyrians came back and carried everyone off as slaves. Likewise, Hezekiah, king of Judah, showed the Babylonian emissaries his treasuries; eventually, they came and took everything he had shown them (it took several generations, but it happened just as Isaiah said it would in 2 Kings 20:15-18). I believe much of Revelation is like this natural judgement.
The religious rulers of Jesus’ day did not receive His warning and admonition. Instead, the conspired to kill Him. Even after His resurrection, they refused to believe, and persecuted the Church. Their subsequent rebellion against Rome cost them their temple, city, and homeland. Temple sacrifice was eliminated. Why? Because the final Sacrifice had been made when the Lamb of God was slain on the cross. From then on, all true Jews call on the name of Jesus for salvation. Paul said it best:
29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God. Romans 2:29
14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Galatians 6:14-15
Abba, I, too, want to boast in nothing except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the world be crucified to me, and I to the world, daily. Make me new every day, O Lord. Amen.