Yesterday we saw examples of divine intervention in the lives of four men. In each case it was totally unexpected, judgmentally affecting incorrigibly wicked men, bringing them to repentance. The riches of God’s grace hereby teach us a lesson. First of all, there is a pattern, clearly discerned.
- A Religious King. Manasseh
- A Pagan King. Nebuchadnezzar.
- A Religious Man. Saul of Tarsus
- A Pagan Man. Fred Lemon.
Already the lesson is becoming clear. What we have here are not just EXAMPLES, but more particularly SAMPLES. God is showing us how His grace will reach ACROSS THE BOARD to the most wicked of men. That in itself is ground for much rejoicing. But there is more.
Jude gave us the key to understanding. (Verse 7) “Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of age-lasting fire.” In 1965 Ruth Graham was reported as saying to her husband, “Billy, if God doesn’t come soon and bring judgment upon the United States, He’s going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!” In this respect she had missed the point of Jude’s words. There will be a time in the Millennium, an age-lasting time, during which the example of Sodom is shown in advance, so that nations might be alerted to God’s judgments. He had no need to repeat the example. Once was enough.
Likewise in the case of these four particular men, the Lord is showing in advance how He will bring about a change in the hearts of the world’s wicked people. The Millennium will not be a bed of roses for the whole world, but a time of reckoning, a time of restitution and restoration, a time of judgment in which the world will wake up to the fact that God has been ignored, hated, dismissed, and totally misunderstood. A time will come when some wicked rulers will find themselves repeating Nebuchadnezzar’s words. I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:34)
The Psalmist has warned people in advance. “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure.” (Psalm 1:2-5)
There are a variety of ways in which God will arrest the progress of wickedness in men, whether they be kings or mere greengrocers, like Fred. Each intervention will be tailor-made to fit the circumstances. But we must learn the lesson. God’s ultimate purpose is to bring all men to repentance, as Paul declared to the Greeks on Mars Hill, “The times of ignorance God has overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
The days of judgment will be like hell on earth for many, but seen from God’s viewpoint the suffering of those days will be like the birth-pangs of new life. After seeing the amazing grace that brought our four “sample men” to repentance, have we the gall to suggest that God will consign over 90% of His creation to some everlasting fire, when He Himself has spoken otherwise?
This is the lesson of the “four sample men”. God is able to deal with incorrigible wickedness in whatever way He deems necessary to bring men to repentance. This is His ultimate good work for which Jesus died and rose again, enabling salvation to come to all men.