|(God’s Four Sore Judgments: Part 7 of 8)|
|Generally, these four sore judgments of God come upon a land when it sins grievously (Ezekiel 14:13). The sins in question may derive from any or all the following three sources:|
1. The Sins of the Rulers
The four sore judgments, either one after the other or all at once, may come upon a land because of the sin(s) of its ruler(s). In 2 Samuel 21:1-2, famine came upon all Israel for three consecutive years during the reign of David the thrice-anointed king and psalmist because of the sin of Saul his bloody predecessor. The righteousness of the present ruler was not sufficient to avert the consequences of the sin of the previous ruler. That previous sin was to be properly atoned for, or otherwise its consequences suffered, by the present generation. Fortunately for that land, it had a perceptive and willing ruler at the time, to do it.
In 1 Chronicles 21:1-9, David’s stubborn census-sin in his capacity as king brought sudden pestilence on the land, and tens of thousands died in three days; a natural biological bubonic outbreak with spiritual origin. Often, there is a spiritual side to natural or physical manifestations, which means that those physical expressions would then merely be the symptoms of spiritual agencies and conditions.
2. The Sins of the People
More commonly, the sins of a people are the bringers of these judgments. However, for any people to sin to the point of provoking those judgments might suggest that they have no righteous ruler or no righteous body of God-fearing people. According to 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, famine and pestilence may come upon a land because of the sins of the people, or especially because of the sins of God’s own people there (v.13). Similarly would their repentance also bring salvation to their land (v.14).
Sodom and Gomorrah present us with one instance of a people (with their wicked rulers) whose sins brought judgment upon them (Genesis 13:13; 4:17-24; 18-19). Other instances may be found in Judges2:11:15; 3:7-9; 4:1-3 where the people’s sin of forsaking the true God for idols brought frustrations such as acute hunger (famine), oppressions by their enemies (sword), so on.
3. The Sins of the Priesthood
Sometimes, even when a Sodom might be on God’s danger list, the land could still be spared by as few as ten righteous people there (or even one righteous Abraham) whose voice in the gap God would hear. Unfortunately, when even that ‘salt’ loses its relevance, as Matthew 5:13 laments; when those righteous few begin to join with the sinners to multiply iniquity, woe unto that people!
The sword that came upon the land in the days of Eli was because “the priests of God” in those days were “sons of Belial” who “knew not the LORD” even though they were apparently active in His service, and bore prominent ecclesiastical titles. After several unheeded warnings against their perverse lifestyles, judgment became inevitable upon that priesthood and upon the whole land (1 Samuel 1:3;2:12, 17; 3-5).
When God says, 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If MY people, which are called by MY name, shall… turn fromTHEIR wicked ways… and will heal their land,” it seems apparent that wicked ways of God’s own people, apart from the sins of their priests or their rulers, makes a land sick, for which it would be in need of the healing of which that verse speaks.
In Jeremiah 14, drought came upon the land of Judah, and famine also (vv.1-6), because “OUR iniquities testify against us,” and “OUR backslidings are many” (v.7). When the prophet says “our iniquities,” he must have been addressing the sins of the generality of the people, but when he says “ourbackslidings,” he was evidently specifically referring to the sins of the people of God, because a person cannot ‘backside’ who has not first been righteous; somebody cannot ‘backslide’ from where they had never been. A sinner does not backslide; only a righteous person does. Therefore, the prophet was addressing both the sins of the people, generally, and the sins of the people of God, specifically. Later, he also addresses the sins of the spiritual leadership (the prophets) for which a spiritual dryness (v.12) as well as famine and the sword (vv.13-18) had come upon the land. Judah thus became guilty on all three counts of the sins that bring those judgments: i) the sins of the people, especially of the household of God; ii) the sins of the religious leaders, and iii) the sins of the rulers.
Although Jeremiah 14:18 seems silent on the sins of the rulers, that was a primary sin in that case. The king at that time in Judah was Jehoiakim, a man who “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD”(2 Kings 23:36), like three others of the five kings during whose reign Jeremiah prophesied. Of those five, Josiah was the only good ruler (2 Kings 22:1-3), followed by four consecutive bad kings, especially Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:31-33) and Jehokiam (2 Kings 23:36), all of whom “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.”
|From The Preacher’s diary, October 9, 1994.|
Revised: May 26, 2018
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