In those days, John the Firebrand started his ministry, preaching in the wilderness of Judea saying, “You’re all destined for the fires of hell. You need to turn or burn because the judgement of God is at hand.”
He spoke to the crowds, “The Roman occupation is punishment from God for our nation’s waywardness. We need to do more than just being baptised – we must work hard to make up for Israel’s sins. However, if we are counted worthy, the one who is coming will liberate us from the might of Rome. But he will throw out every person who does not make the cut and he will consume with unquenchable fire all those who support Rome.”
Not the Bible: The Ungospel of Matthew 3:1-12
If God was into the business of punishing us then we would all be in hell right now.
All of us have sinned. All of us want to do things our way. All of us have rebelled against God. All of us fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) . And the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). We all deserve to die.
People often ask “how can God let bad things happen to good people?” but the reality is that “no one is good except God alone” (Lk 18:19).
So the real question is how can a holy and just God give good things when we are so rebellious, selfish, proud, ungrateful? Why does He not give us what we deserve? Why is He so patient with us?
For He is the God that “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Mt 5:45)
It is not that He is not just – for “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Gal 6:7) but that God “is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9)
“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” (Ezek 33:11a)
For example, God waited four generations before He punished the sins of the Amorites (Gen 15:16)
Despite His people turning away from Him He waited years and gave them repeated warnings through the Prophets before He judged Israel using the Assyrians and the Judah using the Babylonians.
I believe that God will give everyone a chance to choose Him in this life – whether that be through a presentation of the gospel or how they respond to the revelation of Him that they receive. He is a good God whose ways are perfect.
But today is the day of salvation. Today is our opportunity for repentance. Today is our opportunity to turn to Him and receive life.
Father, thank you for today. Thank you for the gift of life and the gift of choice. Today I choose You and all that You have for me and all that You desire for me. Show me what You want to prune in me and I will hold still while You cut. Show me how I can serve You and I will step out whatever the cost to my pride. In Jesus’ name. Amen.