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What on earth is happening? (4)

We know that the righteous judgment of God falls on those who do such things. Do you suppose, O man – you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself – that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?      Romans 2: 2-4


Have you heard and overheard folk in Jersey using the two systems in bold above in order to demonstrate their right-ness – despite their wrong-ness?


The above sentences were written in Greek in AD 57 by a Jew named Paul who was also a Roman citizen. He had a brilliant mind. He had been a student under a Doctor of the Law and a Sanhedrin (ruling Council) member in Jerusalem named Rabban Gamaliel. (Rabban is a higher title than Rabbi.) He also persecuted, for a time, followers of Jesus Christ - the man who was crucified in AD 33 and had physically risen from the dead.


Paul had it sussed. He wrote it down as he saw it. Folk living only 24 years after the resurrection of Jesus thought – for two good reasons - that they would escape the judgment of God. The reasons then are the same today. Heard and overheard in Jersey.


The first reason to believe that one will escape is the fact that one readily sees the wrong-ness of others. By pointing out that wrong-ness in others I shall escape. Those to whom I point it out will know that I’m righteous, that I can see it. Folk don’t get it right, do they? They aren’t righteous. They’re mistaken or worse.....


And what if I’m doing those same things myself? Well, the fact that I’m criticising others will ensure that my own deeds are well-covered. God won’t see either. Or, if he does, he’ll listen and hear how righteous I really am......


What is the second reason why my right-ness is so clear to everybody? Well, there is a well-known fact that establishes my right-ness. I talk about that fact sometimes. But for the most part everybody knows about it and everybody agrees with it.  That fact is - God is love. See bold above.


Well, OK. It is also true that God is righteous. But, you see, its all clear from the words Paul uses. God is rich in “his kindness and forbearance and patience”. No problem there for me. 


One familiar phrase in the business and political worlds is “The devil is in the detail.” Could that be correct here also?


Yes God has riches of (1) kindness, (2) forbearance and (3) patience.


In Paul’s Greek (1) is chrestotes. This word means “moral goodness” and “integrity” as well as “kindness”. Moral goodness?


In Paul’s Greek (2) is anoche. Its root is a verb meaning “to hold oneself firmly” or “to endure”. To endure what?


In Paul’s Greek (3) is also a killer. Its makro-thumia. We often use the prefix “macro” to mean a high-level or long-term viewpoint.  And thumia? It means “wrath” or “anger”. Wrath?


So the “God is love” message of this AD 57 learned follower of Jesus is, “Yes, God is rich in love, God is morally good, God endures wrong-ness, God is long-term in bringing his wrath finally to bear on wrong-ness.


Why? Why does a holy God take so long? Why leave wrong-ness to cause such rampant hurt and harm to me and others? It’s definitely not telling all humanity that their wrong-ness doesn’t matter – and won’t ever matter.


Paul has explained this. It’s something that those folk whom you hear and overhear in Jersey don’t want to know.


They don’t want to know that God’s moral goodness (same as in (1) above) is intended by Him to lead them to (Greek) metanoia – mind-change. Yes, that’s why time is stretched out; that’s why things aren’t brought to an end sooner. Justice isn’t being done for a while – so as to allow Jersey folk to change their minds.

‘God is not always a God of immediate justice, but he is a God of ultimate justice.’ (John Blanchard, author and preacher)
Do not try to imagine God, or you will have an imaginary God.' (A W Tozer, American pastor, 1897-1963)
Richard Syvret

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