God’s moral law is a transcript of His holiness. It is a reflection of His goodness and of His character. Contained within the Decalogue (God’s 10 Commandments) is the Second Commandment which describes God as a Judge who punishes evil and rewards righteousness:
“For I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:5, 6.
We learn from theology and history that God rewards man according to his works. God rewards good and punishes evil. God not only exists, but whenever necessary He judges His creation when all other efforts to save them fails. God bears long with individuals, families, nations and entire civilizations in the effort to see them reconciled.
His mercy may entreat sinners for years, and His grace can plead with societies for centuries. But there is a limit to the mercy and grace of God. There comes a time when His mercies are turned into judgments. Whenever God’s messages fall upon deaf ears and whenever His warnings are continually rejected, God, in His perfect time of mercy and justice, can sometimes deal with civilizations very severely.
God prefers mercy and forgiveness and not judgment. He is long-suffering and not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Often times these punishments or “chastisements” (Hebrews 12:6-11) come by way of tribulations, wars, famine, droughts and plagues and are the results of divine retribution because of sin.
We see God’s divine justice in His dealing with the antediluvians during the Great Flood, the plagues of Egypt, the fall of Babylon, the chastisements of Israel, the expulsion of the Canaanites, the desolation of Sodom and Gomorrah, the final destruction of Nineveh and many other notable examples. All of these instances occurred only after every effort to save people had been rejected and after His tender calls of mercy went unheeded. God does intervene in judgment in the affairs of His Creation. We see a vivid description of God’s calls for mercy and His final intervention through judgment in the following verses:
“Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.” Proverbs 1:24-31.
Paul also reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 that the Old Testament punishments endured by ancient Israel are an “example” and an “admonition” for us who live at the end of the world. Their story is recorded so that we do not follow in their footsteps.
“The unbelief and sins of ancient Israel were presented before me, and I saw that similar wrongs and iniquity exist among modern Israel. The pen of inspiration recorded their crimes for the benefit of those who live in these last days, that we might shun their evil example” (Testimonies, Vol. 4, p. 491).
Then we have this solemn warning from the book of Hebrews about the Old Testament judgments and their relationship to us:
“For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” Hebrews 2:2, 3.
The words spoken by “angels” (aggelos) or “messengers” were the Old Testament prophets (See Hebrews 1:1, 2). We are reminded that if judgment against sin was faithfully administered in the Old Testament, don’t imagine that just because we are now in the New Testament that we will escape the same divine justice of God.
The warning today is that we will not escape because we have done much worse. The last generation living on planet earth is more guilty than the generation that shouted, “Crucify him!” This is what inspiration says:
“The same disobedience and failure which were seen in the Jewish church have characterized in a greater degree the people who have had this great light from heaven in the last messages of warning. Shall we, like them, squander our opportunities and privileges until God shall permit oppression and persecution to come upon us? Will the work which might be performed in peace and comparative prosperity be left undone until it must be performed in days of darkness, under the pressure of trial and persecution?” (Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 456).
“Christ declares that there will exist similar unbelief concerning His second coming. As the people of Noah’s day ‘knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away; so,’ in the words of our Saviour, ‘shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’ Matthew 24:39. When the professed people of God are uniting with the world, living as they live, and joining with them in forbidden pleasures; when the luxury of the world becomes the luxury of the church; when the marriage bells are chiming, and all are looking forward to many years of worldly prosperity—then, suddenly as the lightning flashes from the heavens, will come the end of their bright visions and delusive hopes” (Great Controversy, p. 338).
The same disobedience, rebellion and unbelief that existed throughout Biblical history is alive today. The only difference is that our sins are worse. We are more guilty because we have not learned the lessons from the past. The sins of men are even more grave because they are supported, tolerated and promoted by the rulers of the people, and by those who govern the church.
Man today is guilty of legislating sin. We have been enshrining immorality into law. The 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges and 2017 Pavan v. Smith decisions by the US Supreme Court codified and normalized sin in our nation. But it’s not just America! God’s moral law is being trampled upon by every so-called civilized nation on the earth. Anarchy and sexual revolution is destroying the sanctity of marriage and family, and these same atrocities are making their way into the church.
Fraud, murder, abortion, theft, vice, gluttony, injustice, corruption, greed, pleasure-seeking, passion, drunkenness and revelry are celebrated and glorified by this generation. The Bible predicted that in these last days men would be “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Hollywood is exalting the baser passions and perverting society with its films. The sporting industry and the music industry are guilty for promoting licentiousness to the whole world during their seductive half-time shows. Our politicians are guilty of doing nothing to stay the tide of evil that is sweeping society.
The churches and those who profess to fear God, including many of our own people, are guilty of perverting the pure, sanctifying truths of the Bible. Gross, abominable errors are being embraced while God’s Holy Word is little valued. So very few today accept the Bible as the guide for life. The clear pillars of the Christian faith are being rejected.
When we reject God’s word we reject its Author – God. When we reject God’s moral law we reject the Lawgiver – God. And when we reject objective truth and divine revelation, sin no longer becomes sinful. Obedience to God’s word is replaced with insubordination. As a result, Eastern philosophies, tradition, nature worship, spiritualism and fables have been replacing the word of God in many of our churches. And those who dare point these things out are despised and ridiculed. When the truth of God is rejected, it is replace with the philosophical lies of Satan:
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1.
Should we be surprised if God allows tribulation, chaos, confusion and judgment to fall on our cities? Do we really imagine that we will somehow escape when God chastised other civilizations for lesser crimes?
“Ought men to be surprised over a sudden and unexpected change in the dealings of the Supreme Ruler with the inhabitants of a fallen world? Ought they to be surprised when punishment follows transgression and increasing crime? Ought they to be surprised that God should bring destruction and death upon those whose ill-gotten gains have been obtained through deception and fraud? Notwithstanding the fact that increasing light regarding God’s requirements has been shining on their pathway, many have refused to recognize Jehovah’s rulership, and have chosen to remain under the black banner of the originator of all rebellion against the government of heaven” (Prophets and Kong’s, p. 276).
How Will God Respond to this World-wide Moral Collapse?
“My spirit shall not always strive with man.” Genesis 6:3.
“But they rebelled, and vexed (grieved) his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.” Isaiah 63:10.
“And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard (people) I will take away the hedge (protection) thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down.” Isaiah 5:5.
We’re told that while the sweet, restraining Spirit of God is gradually being removed from our world, calamities and disasters will become more frequent and intense:
“The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude” (Testimonies, Vol. 9, p. 11).
Notice how clearly we have been warned that it is God who prevents Satan from bringing disaster on the earth. When men continually choose darkness and error instead of truth and light, God gradually begins to remove his protection from the earth, and people are left at the mercy of the one they chose to serve – the evil one:
“Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. He has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature, and he uses all his power to control the elements as far as God allows. When he was suffered to afflict Job, how quickly flocks and herds, servants, houses, children, were swept away, one trouble succeeding another as in a moment. It is God that shields his creatures, and hedges them in from the power of the destroyer. But the Christian world have shown contempt for the law of Jehovah; and the Lord will do just what he has declared that he would, he will withdraw his blessings from the earth, and remove his protecting care from those who are rebelling against his law, and teaching and forcing others to do the same. Satan has control of all whom God does not especially guard.” (Great Controversy, p. 589).
“He (Satan) will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hail-storms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast” (Great Controversy, p. 589).
These are part of the signs which were spoken of by Christ indicating that the close of human history is fast approaching. These signs will culminate with the glorious appearing of Christ in the clouds of heaven. There is no escaping the fact that Jesus will personally return. He’s coming again, and soon everything will be made right.
Our society is on the brink of a moral catastrophe. There is nothing new under the sun, and the same reprobate mindset that existed in bygone civilizations exists today. The very sins that caused previous societies to lose their place in history are on full display today – but worse. The chaos and confusion we are seeing in today’s news is what the Bible describes as a “just recompense of reward” (Hebrews 2: 2) for all the abominations we see on the earth.
If the current coronavirus crisis we are in comes to an end, it will only be through the prayers of the faithful. The Scriptures tell us that God answers the prayers of the righteous:
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Psalm 66:18.
“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” Proverbs 28:9.
If we pray without regard to God’s moral law, our prayers will not be heard. God will not answer our prayers when we hide our rebellion. If we pray with hearts full of sin and do not seek forgiveness for those sins, there will be no answer, no mercy and no healing.
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.” Proverbs 15:8.
“The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.” Proverbs 15:29.
“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” Isaiah 1:15.
“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12.
God is against those who do evil, but the good news is that if we confess our sins, He can, for the sake of the righteous, shorten the current days of “tribulation” (Matthew 24:22).
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16.