Volume. XXI, No. 35
Sunday, 25 February 2007

From the Pastors heart: Justice (part 3)

A few psalms have been called imprecatory psalms such as Psalms 55, 56, 58, 69, 109, and others. I have written that God’s rule is just, which entails both punishments upon the wicked and rewards for the righteous. They are teachings about God’s vengeance in the Bible. Revelation 19:2 states, “For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.” Our next consideration about God’s vengeance is related to His covenant.
The Idea of Covenant
Covenant is a comprehensive term which refuses any one particular definition. For example, there are many proposals concerning its etymological meanings such as (1) bond, (2) between two parties, (3) obligation, or (4) something specially set apart. However, its definition should not come from its etymological connections but from its usage in the Bible. The Hebrew word for covenant is often translated as “covenant,” “treaty,” “agreement,” or “alliance.” According to W. E. Vine, this Hebrew word is used over 280 times in the Old Testament. 
In order to understand the notions of covenant, let me quote from Noah Webster’s 1828 English Dictionary again. As a noun it means (1) A mutual consent or agreement of two or more persons, to do or to forbear some act or thing; a contract; stipulation; (2) A writing containing the terms of agreement or contract between parties; or the clause of agreement in a deed containing the covenant; (3) In theology, the covenant of works, is that implied in the commands, prohibitions, and promises of God; the promise of God to man, that mans perfect obedience should entitle him to happiness; (4) The covenant of redemption, is the mutual agreement between the Father and Son, respecting the redemption of sinners by Christ. The covenant of grace, is that by which God engages to bestow salvation on man, upon the condition that man shall believe in Christ and yield obedience to the terms of the gospel; and (5) In church affairs, a solemn agreement between the members of a church, that they will walk together according to the precepts of the gospel, in brotherly affection. As a verb, it means (1) To enter into a formal agreement; to stipulate; to bind ones self by contract; and (2) To grant or promise by covenant. In summary, we may say that the concept of covenant includes some stipulations and promises.
These covenantal elements are easily found in the notion of God’s justice and vengeance. Exodus 19:5 and 8 demonstrate a typical form of covenant and a response from the covenanted people: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine . . . . 8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.” Exodus 24:3 and 7 are another example: “And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do. . . . 7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.” In other words, there are blessings and curses within the covenant. Those who obey God’s covenant shall be blessed, and those who disobey God will be judged. It is justice. Joshua 24:15-25 is another example for better understanding of covenants: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. 16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods . . . . 18 And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God. 19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. 21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. 22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. 23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel. 24 And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.” There are stipulations in covenants.
In the first place, the covenant of God is the covenant of promises. For example, Genesis 12:1-3 says, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” If God had not blessed Abraham and his descendants as He promised in this passage, He is neither righteous nor just. On the other hand, if God had not judged those who hurt and cursed Abraham and his descendants, He is neither sincere nor honest. As we can see, the divine justice is the backbone of God’s covenant. If He does not keep His words, He becomes a liar, which He cannot become. Thus, He shall reward the righteous, and punish the evil. 
If we read the following passages, we shall know of God’s justice from His covenantal point of view. Nahum 1:2 says, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.” Then, we may understand what the psalmist said in Psalm 58:10, “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.” Revelation 22:12, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 11:18 says, “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” Hebrews 11:26 says, “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” Thus, we praise the Lord for God’s justice in which He blesses and punishes. God’s covenant justifies His vengeance. He keeps His covenants.
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Shorter Catechism Question 85: What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin? To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption. 
Please pray for health & God’s healing: Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, Rev David Koo, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, & Winston Selvanayagam; Sisters Sheila George, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Aranka Rejtoe (Norwood Nursing Home at 75-79 Hilltop Drive, Oaken. Phone: 8261 5177), Chrisanthi Selvanayagam, Juanita Tong, Susan Veradi, & Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Auntie Oei & others in affliction. "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Pet 5:7).
Please pray for – a) Cambodia Missions - Rev David Koo & Ministry (Sihanoukville); b) Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam; c) Pastors & believers in India & Pakistan; d) Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim; e) Journey Mercies - Dn Ngie Joo & Sis Sooi Chin Gong (M’sia); Bro Raymond Ang (Adl); Bro Timothy & Sis Constance Tan (S’pore); Mr Sim, Mr Lin (Sing) and all those travelling this week; f) Easter Camp Speaker: Dr Gary Cohen.
Praise and Thank God for – a) YAF Adelaide University Outreach (Mon & Tue) & Welcome Night (Thur) - evangelism opportunities & encouraging attendance; b) Journey mercies -Bros Yick Ho Lam & You Wen Yeap; Sisters Lydia Fan, Tabitha Heah, Vanessa Tan, Charlotte Lin & Clara Sim (Adl); Sis Peng Ha Yeo (Syd);all those who have arrived safely at their destinations; c) Working Bee yesterday; d) YAF committee & members for their hard work & faithfulness for the LORD.
Special Prayer for Sis Rachel Volvricht - leaving on Fri, 2 Mar, for Bedford, UK, for her wedding.
Ladies’ Fellowship - Dates for Prayer & Share, & course - Introduction to Biblical Counselling - are on the notice board. Please come and join. A 63-page workbook for the course can be purchased at US $10 each. Please let Sis Giok Yeo know if you would like one as they have to be ordered from interstate.
Combined Ladies and Men’s Fellowship Dinner at My Yen on Fri, 2 Mar at 7pm. $20 per head. Please book and pay Sis Julie Tan by today.
Looking ahead: Easter Family Bible Camp 6-9 April 2007. Speaker will be Dr Gary Cohen.



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