Yes God Does Do This, and So Should We

The amount of unbiblical thinking most Christians are engaged in is really quite appalling. One suspects that large swathes of the Christian community have never even opened the book they claim is so vital to their faith. And if they do crack the covers of the Bible, it might be to do some selective skim-reading of a Psalm or a bit of the Gospels.

So few believers nowadays actually read their Scriptures cover to cover that much of the church is filled with those who are biblically illiterate. They know little or nothing about what their own Bible says, yet will latch on to all the latest trendy, secular mush.

So when you quote Scripture to them, or share with them some biblical truths, many of them will actually take offence and get angry with you. Go figure! They are so unaware of what their own Holy Book teaches, that they will often lash out when someone dares to tell them what is contained therein.

I get this happening to me all the time. I expect non-believers to treat me this way of course. But the real shocker is when so many who claim to be believers treat me this way. But this is not true just of me. Jesus of course had the same problem.

Remember what he said to the Sadducees in Matthew 22:29: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” It seems like we have a lot of Sadducees in our churches today. As an example, I am often rebuked for pointing out sinful activities or clearly evil people doing clearly evil things.

I am told I must not judge and I dare not look down on anyone or anything. These people would likely get mad at you if you dared to suggest that someone like Hitler was a real nasty piece of work. They think we are never to challenge any sin, or any sinner.

Well, Scripture takes a different approach to these matters. The Bible is never shy about calling a spade a spade, and it is happy to call evil, evil, and refer to evil people as evil people. It even will often take a derisive approach to such people. Really.

Let me focus on just one text, which plenty of believers today probably think is not in the Bible – or should not be. I refer to Psalm 37:13: “The Lord laughs at the wicked, for He knows their day is coming.” What, God laughs at the wicked?

But that can’t be. God is a God of love and he would never do such a thing. Sorry, but I will side with Scripture here, rather than humanistic, sentimental mush which so characterises the thinking of so many Christians today. James Montgomery Boice rightly comments:

“We do not often think of the Lord laughing, especially at wickedness, and it is right we do not since to us laughter usually means that someone is taking a matter lightly. The laughter in v. 13 is like that of Psalm 2, which says that the Lord ‘scoffs’ at those who think they are able to overthrow him and thus determine their own rebellious destinies. God laughs at the wicked scornfully, because he knows their appointed ends. He knows they will be brought low and be judged by him.”

And if this is how God looks at the wicked rebels who refuse to bow the knee, there is nothing amiss in us taking the same view as well. Indeed, I just read something John Stott said in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount which is most appropriate here.

He writes, “The truth is that evil men should be the object simultaneously of our ‘love’ and of our ‘hatred’, as they are simultaneously the objects of God’s (although his ‘hatred’ is expressed as his ‘wrath’). To ‘love’ them is ardently to desire that they will repent and believe, and so be saved. To ‘hate’ them is to desire with equal ardour that, if they stubbornly refuse to repent and believe, they will incur God’s judgment.

“Have you never prayed for the salvation of wicked men (e.g., who blaspheme God or exploit their fellow humans for profit as if they were animals), and gone on to pray that if they refuse God’s salvation, then God’s judgment will fall upon them? I have. It is a natural expression of our belief in God, that he is the God both of salvation and of judgment, and that we desire his perfect will to be done.”

The truth is, there are people who are God’s enemies. They should be, in a sense, our enemies as well. The imprecatory psalms for example deal with this quite often in the Psalter. As Stott remarks, “So there is such a thing as perfect hatred, just as there is such a thing as righteous anger. But it is a hatred for God’s enemies, not our own enemies. It is entirely free of all spite, rancour and vindictiveness, and is fired only by love for God’s honour and glory.

“It finds expression now in the prayer of the martyrs who have been killed for the word of God and for their witness (Rev. 6:10). And it will be expressed on the last day by the whole company of God’s redeemed people who, seeing God’s judgment come upon the wicked, will concur in its perfect justice and will say in unison, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just…Amen. Hallelujah!” (Rev. 19:1,3,4).

A year ago Dan Delzell wrote an interesting piece on the psalm we are looking at. He is worth citing here: “He does what? Are you saying God laughs at people who are choosing the path which leads to eternity in hell? In some cases, yes. Those who choose to live in opposition to God’s requirements will one day find themselves in a horrible place. God reaches out to them here on earth to rescue their souls….but because they shamelessly laugh at His goodness and salvation, God then begins laughing at them.

“It’s not an image most of us tend to think of when we consider God’s attitude toward sinners. There is no doubt that God has tremendous compassion for lost people. God did more than we could ever hope for when Jesus suffered and died on the cross for the sins of the world. However, if a man is going to be so brazen as to not only reject God’s offer of salvation, but also to laugh at the very One who is reaching out to save him….then yes, God laughs at that man….for the Lord knows his day is coming.

“God was not laughing when Christ was suffering for our salvation on the cross. God does not laugh when most people suffer. There are some people, however, who inspire God’s laughter by their defiant opposition to God’s Word. In those cases, God always gets the last laugh.

“It might sound ‘unloving’ to say God laughs at the wicked. Well, is it any more ‘unloving’ than sending the wicked to hell? God’s love is offered to all….and received only by some. God’s justice is handed down to those who reject the Lord’s love and grace. If God wants to laugh at those who oppose Him, who are we to question the Almighty?

“God will do whatever He wishes….whenever He wishes to do so. ‘Woe to him who quarrels with His Maker.’ (Isaiah 45:9) Remember what the Lord said to Job. ‘Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Let him who accuses God answer Him!’ (Job 40:1) How will the mockers answer for themselves on Judgment Day? Their laughter will quickly turn to astonishment….and then to hopeless despair when their eternal sentence is handed down.”

He concludes, “If you ever sense that God is laughing at you, it would be a good time to reflect on where you stand with Him. You can laugh at God all day long if you wish….but He will always, and I mean always….get the last laugh. That is a sobering thought for anyone who has even an ounce of spiritual sensitivity and biblical discernment. At the end of the day my friend, your acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is no laughing matter.”

Absolutely. So we are called to think God’s thoughts after him, and share in that which is on his heart. He loves and seeks out the sinner. So should we. But he will not tolerate rank rebellion and opposition to himself. Neither should we.

The true Christian is the one who rejoices in what God rejoices in, and grieves over what he grieves over. How can it be any other way?

[1469 words]

14 Replies to “Yes God Does Do This, and So Should We”

  1. Hi Bill
    Perhaps now that Gillard, Rudd, Labour party are no longer such a focus of attention, they will no longer be seen as the root of all evil. I am glad to see an article that addresses something more fundamental in the Christian malaise. Namely a generation of christians that are biblically illiterate.

    I hope the focus of your posts turn more to this issue of exploring why people who have been filing in and out of churches for decades continue to be so biblically illiterate. I consider it must be hard to have the courage of your convictions when you don’t really have biblically based convictions.

    Could anyone hazard a guess WHY long standing church attendees are not only biblical novices, who rarely bring up the bible in general conversation, but seem quite contented to stay that way?

    Peter Bonchar

  2. Thanks Peter

    I of course nowhere said they are the root of all evil, but politics is vitally important and I certainly am not going to stop writing on it. As to the church and related issues, given that I have 300 sermons and devotionals, and 580 articles on the church, this is hardly the first time I have discussed such issues! So yes I will keep on writing about such topics, along with all the other important subjects out there.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  3. I am intrigued about Psalm 139.
    This is a beautiful Psalm about how God is intimately familiar with us. However, it ends this way:

    19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
        Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
    20 They speak of you with evil intent;
        your adversaries misuse your name.
    21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
        and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
    22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
        I count them my enemies.
    23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
        test me and know my anxious thoughts.
    24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
        and lead me in the way everlasting.
    Psalm 139:19-24 (NIV)

    Can we also think and pray the same way?

    Sid Avery

  4. I wonder if the word laugh in Psalm 37:13 may be closer to “cringe”.
    Johannes Archer

  5. Thanks Johannes. The English translations basically get it right when the Hebrew term is translated “laughs”.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  6. Most people who listen to Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus would have know idea that the lyrics are taken from Revelation. When the world mourns only God’s people will be rejoicing. And yet the Hallelujah Chorus is a wonderful piece of music and a favourite at Carol services for both Christians and non-Christians! Whilst this is one of my favourite songs (I am more convinced that God inspired this than any other song I’ve heard/sung) and I love to sing songs related to the second coming at Carol services, most people who listen to the Hallelujah Chorus are completely ignorant of the context of the lyrics.

    When one thinks of difficult passages in the Psalms one would think of Psalm 137 which includes this verse “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” (Psalm 137:9, NIV)

    There are some things worth noting which would include:
    1. The Psalmists lived BC, before Jesus came
    2. Whether or not what they always said was right or not, they were being honest about how they felt. It is far better to be truthful to God than to be hypocritical. He knows what we are thinking and feeling anyway.
    3. They asked God to act and take revenge.
    4. If God allowed the Israelites to suffer such things would he really be expected to spare Israel’s enemies?

    Matt Vinay

  7. I think there is – generally speaking – a sentiment that says that forgiveness means the thing forgiven was OK after all and that love means agreement. When you have these misconceptions, the idea of God opposing wickedness comes into conflict with God loving his creation. However there is no conflict between these things when we understand that love does NOT mean agreement and forgiveness does NOT mean that you think the thing forgiven was OK after all.

    God loves his creation and desires us all to come to him, however the consequences of refusing his offer are terrible because sin really is bad, and God willingness to forgive does NOT mean that he thinks sin is OK and his love for us does NOT mean that he agrees with everything we do.

    John Symons

  8. In a primitive way, I can relate this to me.
    I’m a father and at times my children will buck the system and I will smile at them and say, with a laugh, you know you’re wasting your time with this attitude.
    I’m my mind there is no alternative. My children must obey my wife and I but we must obey God.

    Daniel Kempton

  9. Bill , this article reminds me of 2 Thess 1:6,”Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you”. This scripture gave me the confidence to heap confusion on those in the last election who promoted ungodly policies. I believe that intercessory prayers of numerous Christians during the campaign has made a real difference as the results clearly show.

    Ernie Van Stralen

  10. Since Jesus opened the way to the thrown room of God and therefore to all the resources of heaven to live a god-pleasing life, nobody has to be bound by their sin any more. I find that very freeing, knowing that the choice in a way is mine, all I need to do is to humble myself and turn from my wicked ways. Therefore I don’t feel sorry for the wicked who want to stay wicked, provided the Holy Spirit has spoken to them through dreams, visions, the word, the book of creation or a Christian who told them the gospel.
    God hates sin forever, anyone who chooses to stay with their sin rather than be cleansed and have fellowship with God mustn’t be surprised that God hates him too.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *